NEW TELEPHARMACY REQUIREMENTS
Following approval at the College of Pharmacists of BC’s September Board meeting, amendments to the Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Act Bylaws regarding telepharmacies as well as a new Schedule F, Part 6 – Telepharmacy Standards of Practice, under the Health Professions Act Bylaws came into effect on November 15, 2017.
Telepharmacy in BC
Telepharmacy is the delivery of pharmacy services, including the dispensing of medications and providing patient counselling, via telecommunications, to patients in locations where they may not have local access to a pharmacist.
A pharmacy technician at the remote site prepares prescription drugs for dispensing by the pharmacist, while the pharmacist at the central site reviews the patient’s profile and performs the clinical check of the medication for appropriateness. The pharmacist also communicates face-to-face with patients for medication counselling through real-time audio-video conferencing technology.
Although remote sites are operated by pharmacy technicians without a full pharmacist physically on-site, the pharmacist at the central site directly supervises all activities at the remote site through the use of real time audio/video technology.
At its September 2017 meeting, the College Board approved, for filing with the Ministry of Health for 60 days, amendments to the Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Act Bylaws regarding telepharmacies; and a new Schedule F, Part 6 – Telepharmacy Standards of Practice, under the Health Professions Act Bylaws. The Board also approved rescinding Professional Practice Policy (PPP) 55 – Telepharmacy, which requires Board approval only. The Bylaw amendments and new policy came into effect in November 2017.
BC’s Telepharmacy model began as a pilot project in 2007 with most of the current telepharmacy sites established in 2009. Beginning in 2014, College staff conducted multiple reviews and inspections of these sites.
Based on the information gathered during these reviews, draft amendments to the PODSA Bylaws regarding telepharmacies, as well as telepharmacy specific Standards of Practice were developed in 2017.
These proposed amendments were approved for a 90-day public posting by the College Board at its April 2017 meeting. All feedback received from the public posting period was considered in the drafting of these amendments.
New Requirements for Telepharmacies
The amendments to the Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Act-Bylaws, as well as the new Telepharmacy Standards of Practice are intended to increase the security of drugs and confidential health information and ensure patients receive safe and effective care at telepharmacies.
Audits and Inspections
New Telepharmacy Standards of Practice
The College has also developed new Standards of Practice for telepharmacy. Central pharmacies and telepharmacies must comply with both the Community Pharmacy Standards of Practice and Telepharmacy Standards of Practice.
These new Standards of Practice set forth the process standards for the following components of Telepharmacy practice:
Receipt of Prescriptions and Transfer of Prescription Information
Prescription Processing and Product Preparation
The new Standards of Practice in their entirety are available here:
Rescinding PPP-55 – Telepharmacy
PPP-55-Telepharmacy provides further detail regarding the components of a telepharmacy policy and procedure manual. As a more comprehensive set of requirements regarding the operation of telepharmacies and related standards of practice have been developed, the College has decided to rescind PPP-55.