by Jordan Roberts
Director of Government Affairs, John Locke Foundation
Patients in Michigan will now be able to pick up prescriptions at remote pharmacies:
LANSING — People will be able to pick up prescriptions at certain pharmacies in Michigan that are not staffed by an on-site pharmacist under legislation signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The measure enacted last week allows for “remote” pharmacies, which proponents support as a way to expand access to pharmacy services and improve health outcomes in rural and underserved areas. Pharmacists at “parent” pharmacies will be able to use a real-time audio and video link to review a prescription before it is dispensed by pharmacy technicians.
The law takes effect in three months and is backed by major drug distributor Cardinal Health, the Michigan Pharmacists Association, hospitals and other health groups.
A remote pharmacy generally cannot be located within 10 miles of a regular pharmacy, unless it gets a waiver from regulators. A pharmacist can be designated as the pharmacist in charge at three pharmacies, including two he or she could supervise remotely. A remote pharmacy can dispense an average of 150 prescriptions a day.
Health reform needs to focus on making it easier and more affordable to access the medical treatments patients need. Michigan’s new plan to allow remote pharmacies to operate can help achieve both of those.
This is just one small example of how telehealth initiatives can supplement the current delivery of health care to make access easier and more affordable.