WASHINGTON, D.C. – One of the biggest challenges facing the country is health care; and in rural communities a lack of access to care is compounded by a shortage of doctors, pharmacists, and allied health care professionals. To help address part of the problem, Congressman Brian Baird (WA-03) secured $550,000 for the Western Washington Rural Health Care Collaborative (WWRHCC) to implement a telepharmacy program. The funding was included in the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act Conference Report for 2008.
“Rural communities face many challenges, especially when it comes to access to quality and comprehensive health care services,” said Congressman Baird. “Pharmacists provide crucial services, and yet, there is a tremendous shortage of registered pharmacists in rural communities throughout Southwest Washington. In fact, none of the Critical Access Hospitals in the region have 24/7 pharmaceutical services or full-time pharmacists on staff. This funding will allow residents access to prompt service, medication information, and healthcare management services that could be critical to their overall health.”
Telepharmacy programs allow a licensed pharmacist at a central location to supervise technicians at a remote site through the use of state-of-art technologies. The technician prepares the prescription, and the pharmacist communicates in real time to the technician and patient through various audio and visual means. This project includes providing equipment, Pxyis automated systems software, and training to rural hospitals.
“By using state of the art technologies, residents in medically-underserved communities can receive all the services they normally would from an on-site licensed pharmacist,” continued Congressman Baird. “This is an innovative approach that can assure the delivery of safe, high quality pharmacy services.”
President Bush has threatened to veto this bill.