Finding pharmacists for both Rota and Tinian remain an issue for the Commonwealth Health Care Corp. but one possible issue being eyed to resolve this is through telepharmacy services for those living on the two islands.
Telepharmacy is the delivery of pharmaceutical services through the internet via web camera. This would allow pharmacists on Saipan to provide services to residents on Rota and Tinian, and allow the patients to get quick access to medications.
According to Kaitlyn Neises, CHCC special assistant for Policy and Development Sustainability, this would provide an easier opportunity for Rota and Tinian residents to get pharmaceutical products as these services speed up the process. There is currently no retail pharmacy access to anyone on Rota and Tinian, and patients are left with either getting their medicines from their physician himself or herself or get their medicine on Saipan.
Neises said telepharmacy services will open pharmacy access to over 5,000 people, and CHCC hopes to launch telepharmacy services to the two islands by January 2020.
She said the vendor contracts and licensing are now being finalized. Once these are approved, CHCC can begin implementing telepharmacy services for the two islands.
CHCC is waiting for its license application to be approved by the Board of Professional Licensing. That license would grant CHCC access to the National Provider Index, the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs, the National Pharmacy Board, and other pharmaceutical services. With access to the NPB, CHCC will have an easier time billing insurance companies for medications as they will be completed electronically.
Neises said CHCC has received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the technology to initiate the program on Rota and Tinian. Two years ago, the Board of Professional Licensing adopted telepharmacy.
The BPL confirmed that there are some issues that need to be fixed such as the real-time video call setting, as it is required for those conducting telepharmacy services in the U.S. mainland. Once this issue has been resolved, the license can be provided.