The Pill Box Provides Telepharmacy Framework

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A new telepharmacy is filling the need for pharmaceutical attention in several rural communities in northeast Indiana. The Pill Box Pharmacy in Albion allows residents to fill prescriptions without direct contact with a pharmacist, and its president says new legislation paves the way for other communities to follow suit. 

Albion lost its traditional pharmacy services in 2006 when three area locations closed, leaving a need in the community. Pill Box Pharmacy President Greg Winn says this trend has been on the upswing during the last decade, leaving many rural communities devoid of a pharmacy. 

“There’s a lot of communities in Indiana that have lost their pharmacies in the last 10 or 15 years. These pharmacies have closed and obviously no one is coming back to re-open those pharmacies in those communities,” he said. 

Winn also said mail-order prescription services had been suggested as a “convenient” alternative to a traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacy. Winn says that approach takes the pharmacist out of the picture, which could have repercussions for patients who may need medical advice or insight regarding their medications.  

Following a three-year effort of Albion community members, who conducted surveys pushing for a telepharmacy, The Pill Box opened in February. 

Albion's Pill Box telepharmacy employs certified pharmacy technicians who work under the supervision of licensed pharmacists in Warsaw, through telecommunications. A laptop on the pharmacy counter in Albion enables patients to video chat with pharmacists. 

In an interview for the Business of Health, Winn tells Inside INdiana Business reporter Kylie Veleta that The Pill Box could even be used as a framework for other rural areas who could benefit from opening telepharmacies throughout the state. 

“The legislation that we passed is very detailed. We talked to about ten other states that are doing telepharmacy and we communicated with as many as possible. The legislation that we wrote is very detailed, some people might say it’s too detailed, but the beauty of it is, yes, now there is a framework. Any pharmacy could get into this, and I encourage them to do so because I sincerely believe that telepharmacy will make Hoosiers healthier because we are bringing pharmacists back into communication with our patients.”

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