Local telepharmacy program adding prescription services at small - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Local telepharmacy program adding prescription services at smaller clinics

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OREGON (WKOW) -- As the pharmacy industry struggles in smaller towns, leaving communities without a place to go for prescriptions, one local health care provider is using technology to serve more patients. 

SSM Health is expanding a new telepharmacy program. It allows patients at smaller clinics that don't have a pharmacist on staff to fill their prescriptions at a prescription center. A tech fills the order and an offsite pharmacist calls in to do a video consult with the patient to talk about how to take the medication and answer any questions. 

"It's expensive to staff a full time pharmacist at an outlying location where there's not a lot of traffic," said pharmacy supervisor Kim Gorden. "It's enabled us to keep current, existing stores open and we have plans for expansion."

The SSM clinic in Oregon is one of six sites using the program right now, including several others in Madison and in Sun Prairie. 

Ed Showers has been a patient at the clinic in his hometown since the 1970's. 

"It gives you that feeling of home and you're not just a thing when you walk in and they know you and we know them and it's much easier," Showers said of the clinic staff. "You can put your trust in someone a lot quicker that way."

He's gotten to know all the employees and now chats regularly with the offsite pharmacists about his prescriptions. He says it's been a smooth and convenient process for him so far.

"I have no thrill in having to drive to Madison to pick something up when it's all right here," Showers told 27 News. "Normally what I get is tied in with the appointment that day or it's a refill."

Showers also took advantage of another new feature of the SSM program, bringing pharmacists to hospital patients. He was recently in the hospital after getting pneumonia. Before he checked out, he chose to have a pharmacist visit his room to go over his prescription regimen, so he didn't have to stop at a pharmacy on the way home. 

SSM officials say the telepharmacy program fills a gap in service. 

"They can get that [prescription] before they go home and save them a trip possibly to another town for a prescription, so I think that it's going to provide a service to our patience that will add convenience and value to their experience," Gorden told 27 News.

The company expects to add prescription services to at least three more clinics north of Madison next year. Those clinics currently do not offer pharmacy services.

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