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Online pharmacies can help communities during COVID-19

How an Online Pharmacy Can Help During COVID-19?

  • PlusVirtual is improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs
  • Like many online pharmacies, PlusVirtual is committed to slowing down the spread of COVID-19 and reducing the pressure imposed on medical personnel
  • A substantial number of Canadians are moving to online pharmacies in order to manage their medication

As COVID-19 continues to spread in Canada, healthcare providers are pivoting to online technologies such as ePharmacies to provide medication to patients and prevent the spread of the illness. PlusVirual has partnered up with a leading Canadian pharmaceutical company on a significant transformation project. The team is shifting its focus towards helping patients find help as the novel health crisis rages on.

So how can online pharmacies like PlusVirtual help during COVID-19? Let's find out.

Keeping Patients at Home

Since infected people can be contagious, it is important to keep as many people at home as possible. An online pharmacy can be used by patients who are most at risk, such as the elderly and immunocompromised. This service allows patients to seek out prescription medicine with the click of a button from the comfort of their own home.

The idea is, physicians will use telehealth/online technology to treat as many illnesses as they can from home and send prescriptions through an EMR system, an Application, email, or fax. PlusVirtual partners up with telehealth providers for value-added consultation.

This makes medical care extremely convenient for patients as they can submit their prescriptions at any time without having to rush to the drugstore during busy hours. They don't have to wait in any long queues. Waiting in lines for a significant amount of time can further complicate the plan to reduce the spread of COVID as the virus has more opportunity to be transmitted to multiple people at once.

It is worth mentioning that if you do not use the same online pharmacy all the time, they may not be aware of any potential drug interactions. You also lose the personal interaction available from a person to person transaction.

Isolate Patients and Limit Contact with Physicians

Isolate Patients and Limit Contact with Physicians

The risk of contagion is highest in indoor spaces. This is why it is important to limit the amount of time healthcare providers spend in hospitals with infected patients. This will go a long way in reducing the spread of the virus. Instead of being in the same room as the patient, doctors and nurses can complete their assessments via video technology as opposed to lengthy in-person visits.

PlusVirtual's partnership with telehealth providers will allow patients to get a full-service solution to meet their healthcare needs.

Greater Medication Accuracy

As the pandemic rages on, the last thing we need is to incorrectly fill prescriptions. This is where online pharmacies, with their superior computational and database tracking abilities, can really shine.

  • Online pharmacies are frequently leveraging advanced technologies to make sure that prescriptions are accurately filled
  • Online pharmacies often achieve greater accuracy when compared to conventional pharmacies
  • One study found that while the drugstore error rate was about 1 in every 50 prescriptions, the error for delivery of medicine was under 1 in 1000 prescriptions (or just about 0.075%)

Providing Access to Essential Healthcare for non-COVID-19 Patients

Online pharmacies can be used to continue delivering medication to non-COVID-19 patients to minimize the disruption of COVID-19 concerns.

This will reduce the number of in-person visits and overcrowding in long queues. Providers can refer their patients to online pharmacies and provide multi-month dispensing (MMD) of medication to reduce the need for in-person encounters. Remote access also assures that patients have healthcare access when an in-person visit is neither practical nor feasible due to COVID-19 concerns.

Efficient Delivery

Efficient Delivery

PlusVirtual has been designed to maximize efficiencies for medication management. The traditional brick and mortar pharmacy pales in comparison. An ePharmacy can improve efficiencies in several ways, including, but not limited to:

  • Accommodating large quantities of prescriptions
  • Improving overall quality
  • Reducing costs associated with prescriptions
  • Generating massive potential savings for patients

Reduces Medical Waste

Traditional brick and mortar drug stores are known for wasting medication – which can have serious impacts on individual health, finance, and the environment.

However, with the door-to-door delivery of medicine that is accurate in terms of amount of pills and dosage, we can easily minimize the risk of unused pills that contaminate our water supply.

This is backed up by studies. For instance, a 2013 study by the US Department of Defense observed numerous benefits of delivering medications to military personnel and veterans. The immediate benefit of delivering medication was a reduction in wasted prescriptions.

Online Pharmacies Can Save Money

Pharmacists in Canada are striving to improve adherence. In fact, non-adherence is an alarming trend in Canada. As many as 70% of patients don't take their medication as instructed by their doctors. This trend was reflected in the Express Scripts Canada's 2019 Prescription Drug Trend Report, found here: Active Management Critical.

In general, the more medication a patient is instructed to take, the less likely they are to follow their prescribed medication regimes.

PlusVirtual helps address non-adherence with the following types of support:

Medication management: It reduces costs while delivering monthly supplies of regularly used drugs for patients with auto-refill capability

Patient health support: Patients can easily get treatment for complex issues and improve adherence to medication regimes based on their physician's guidelines.

How Online Pharmacies Work

How Online Pharmacies Work

  • PlusVirtual makes it easy for customers to open an account and submit their information. The pharmacy can then start selling medication through the platform.
  • Their healthcare provider can submit/send the prescription directly from an EMR system,  direct  mail, fax, email, or they can even phone it in. Also, patients can take a photo of the prescription through the PlusVirtual app and submit it to pharmacy through the PlusVirtual portal in order to avoid the long line.
  • Prescriptions are delivered quickly with a minimal shipping charge, if any.
  • PlusVirtual may consult patients about their prescriptions, either through phone or an online secure video call from the PlusVirtual patient mobile application.

Understanding the Potential Limitations of Online Pharmacies

Online pharmacies may not be accessible in areas with limited access to technological devices (such as phones, computers, and tablets) or areas with connectivity issues on the part of patients. This may make online pharmacies unfeasible for some people. This is definitely true in the case of individuals in rural areas. Although, it should be noted that PlusVirtual can work in a traditional manner and accept the submission of necessary documentation through phone or fax.

Reshaping the Future of Medication Through Digital Innovation

The new partnership with PlusVirtual is poised to introduce new ways of medical care that limit unnecessary exposure and prioritize the safety of patients and healthcare workers. PlusVirtual also helps physicians digitize care delivery platforms and shape the future of the healthcare system in Canada, in both the short and long term.