The Virtual MedsCheck

Telemedicine Meets Telepharmacy

Ontarian pharmacy staff already know what defines the MedsCheck program. For those of you working in pharmaceutical healthcare outside of Ontario, Canada, allow me to explain. The Ontario government offers a great program to enhance Ontarians’ quality of life and level of healthcare. The MedsCheck program basically incentivizes pharmacies to regularly offer their patients interviews to review their prescription and over the counter medications.

The purpose of MedsChecks is almost universal to pharmacists in every jurisdiction, even jurisdictions without a program dedicated to said purpose. Pharmacists ask certain patients to bring all their medications for a review almost globally, albeit in a less formal way outside of official programs. But whether you’re conducting a review of patient medications under a government program in your jurisdiction, or you’re going through the review process informally, you probably heard of cases where MedsChecks or their equivalent wherever you live are now done virtually, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many pharmacists choose to do their virtual MedsChecks over the telephone, but an increasing number of pharmacists are opting to go through that process using a telemedicine video call online. Reviewing medications virtually has many advantages and we’re going to walk you through the most prominent of those to encourage you to opt for telehealth virtual meetings with your patients via video conferencing software when you review their medications.

1. Better Visibility

Many of your patients do not know enough about their medications to be able to reliably check their medications with you over the phone. Others may have different challenges to reckon with, such as visual impairment. A telehealth video call with your patient would allow them to show you all the relevant medications and packaging in real time, so that you can help them identify the medications in question reviewing how they should be used and their contraindications.

This is also useful for counting out medications in pill & tablet dosage forms in real time as well as showing the patients how to divide their medications amongst their blister packs. You can also indicate to your patients via virtual video conference how sublingual medications, inhalers, and subcutaneous injections are applied. The benefits of upgrading your virtual MedsCheck from telephone to video call are myriad.

2. Higher Trust

Using a video conferencing solution to see your patients for a virtual MedsCheck is helpful in building the patients’ trust in you, because video calls make it easier to establish rapport than phone calls. Just the fact that your patient sees you, their healthcare provider on screen, as opposed to hearing your disembodied voice over the phone, makes a huge difference in how they feel.

Additionally, you can make significant use of body language and visual social cues which increase the rapport that leads to trust. For example, as outlined in previous blogs, you can use the eye contact trick. The eye contact trick gives the impression that you’re looking the patient in the eye, despite the fact that doing so is not currently possible on most video calls due to the hardware associated with mainstream video conferences.

The eye contact trick utilises many factors but the most important one is for you, the pharmacist, to look into the camera lens the majority of the time that you are speaking to a patient to conduct a virtual med review. Avoid the temptation to look directly at the patient’s image on your screen too much. It’s more important for the patient to see you as making eye contact than for you to see the patient the same way.

3. Greater Patient Satisfaction

I can’t even begin to tell you how much more patient satisfaction is gained from the more informative televideo virtual meetings with pharmacists for MedsChecks or other types of medication reviews. For many patients in general, having a MedsCheck over the telephone can be a disheartening experience. When somebody asks them if they’ve done their MedsCheck recently they might answer with something like “Yeah..I guess”. Or “I tried..Still not sure they got it right though.”

These occurrences are pronouncedly less during a virtual MedsCheck done over video calling solutions. Because patients are more able to visually establish rapport with you during video calls and because a video call is more visually informative to a patient, potential patient frustration tends to be significantly reduced in during a video call for a MedsCheck, compared to potential patient frustration during a regular telephone call for the same purpose. And greater patient satisfaction is, of course, a cornerstone of the sound practice of pharmacy.

As a pharmacist, or a pharmaceutical healthcare professional, you could probably find more advantages to carrying out virtual medication reviews over video calls online via video conferencing software. These advantages would likely apply under MedsCheck, or any other formal medication review program. They may even apply to informal medication reviews. For video conferencing software compliant with global and North American standards (HIPAA, PHIPA  & More), get a free trial of Banty Virtual Clinic.

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Abdallah Al Alfy

Alfy is a content writer of 17 years, writing in multiple literary and content disciplines, and translating professionally since his early teens. Full name of Abdallah Al Alfy, he is also a licensed pharmacist in multiple countries. Alfy’s pharmaceutical background has often been an asset in scientific and medical writing.