Access to Telepharmacy Services May Reduce Hospital Admissions in Outpatient Populations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Introduction: Avoidable hospital admissions put increased pressure on already strained health care resources, causing emotional and financial distress for patients and their families while taxing the health system. Pharmacist involvement in patient care has been shown to improve health care outcomes. Telepharmacy allows for personalized interaction and access to pharmacy services in a flexible format. The primary aim of this report is to explore the impact that access to a personalized telepharmacy service has on the hospital admission rate in an outpatient population before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Materials and Methods: A retrospective, double-arm cohort study was performed. Hospital admission rates were analyzed in two similarly aged groups; one group (n = 2,242) had access to telepharmacy services through their primary care provider and another group did not (n = 1,540), from 2019 to 2020. Statistical analysis was performed to explore hospitalization rates in both groups.

Results: An increase in hospitalization rates was observed in both groups of patients from 2019 to 2020. The patient group that had access to the telepharmacy service demonstrated a reduced rise in hospitalization rates versus the group without access to the telepharmacy service (access group +12.9% vs. nonaccess group +40.2%, p < 0.05, Student's t-test).

Discussion: The patient group with access to telepharmacy services demonstrated a reduced increase in hospitalizations versus the group without access in 2020. While this represents a preliminary investigation into the potential impacts of telepharmacy on hospitalization rates, telepharmacy services may have a role in improving patient outcomes and cost savings.

Program or Discipline Name

Pharmaceutical Sciences

Publication Title

Telemedicine and e-Health

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