The owner of Greenfield-based Medicap Pharmacy says its new telepharmacy in Shelby County addresses a "medical desert" in the area. Dave Bush says the Morristown Pharmacy gives residents of the small town more convenient access to pharmacy services they previously didn't have. The facility allows people to bring their prescriptions and speak to Bush or another pharmacist at the Greenfield location via a video conference.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Bush said rural communities often end up seeing a loss of services which creates a desert for access to healthcare.

"Patients have to drive 15-20 miles to the closest point of access and while that doesn't sound like a long way, it becomes quite an inconvenience, particularly if you have other factors in the town," said Bush. "If you have a dentist or other healthcare professionals in that town, if they can write prescriptions and people will have to drive 15-20 minutes to get their prescriptions and then drive 15 or 20 minutes back, it really doesn't make a lot of sense and it can lead to people not taking advantage of healthcare that they should."

Bush says the medical deserts typically happen in small, rural communities that cannot produce enough revenue for a pharmacy with a pharmacist and a full staff. The Morristown Pharmacy is staffed with a certified pharmacy technician who will fill prescriptions after receiving approval from the pharmacist reached through the video conference.

The connection between the Morristown location and the Greenfield pharmacy was made with the help of Greenfield-based Ninestar Connect, which provided the high-speed fiber infrastructure to bring the two locations together. Bush says the rural broadband infrastructure is key to bringing more telepharmacies to life.

"That's where, in our case, Ninestar was so very, very important because they provide all of our services for both security, which is obviously a concern, and then also for the video conferencing that we do on a daily basis," said Bush. "You must have a strong Internet group and you've got to have the ability to monitor and keep track of what's happening at the store on a daily basis."

Bush says, if the infrastructure is in place, the telepharmacy model can work in any community.

The Morristown telepharmacy is only the second of its kind in Indiana. The first opened earlier this year in the Noble County town of Albion.