Telepharmacy in Malaysia: Advantages and Barriers

Dinesh Kumar's picture
Manfye Goh's picture

Dinesh Kumar and Manfye Goh

Apr 20, 2022 . 5 min read

Dinesh Kumar's picture

Telepharmacy in Malaysia: Advantages and Barriers

What is Telepharmacy?

The incorporation of Information Technology (IT) advancements in healthcare have been growing recently. Moreover, the emergence of the Covid 19 pandemic has made digital health an integral part of our daily lives.

Telepharmacy refers to pharmacists’ use of telecommunication technology to monitor pharmacy operations and deliver patient care services. Typically, telepharmacy which is the subdivision of telemedicine or telehealth involves services such as medication order review, dispensing and compounding, drug information services, patient counseling, and therapeutic drug monitoring

Telepharmacy in Malaysia

Telepharmacy is a relatively recent advancement in healthcare services in Malaysia. As a new medical technology, it takes a lot more work to change the paradigm and it requires a detailed assessment of the understanding of the professionals and their readiness to adapt to the new technology. Despite being the novel mode of delivering healthcare services, there are emerging pharmacy-related startups utilizing technology to revolutionize healthcare.

What are the benefits of telepharmacy?

We believe there will be a revolution in the health and wellness industry with the increasing number of startups in Malaysia. As the health technology is at one’s fingertips, these are some potential advantages of telepharmacy

1. Easy Access Healthcare Services

The primary advantage of telepharmacy is easy to access to healthcare services. This is useful in healthcare settings where the medication dispensing is done by non-pharmacist personnel. Development of telepharmacy models able to tackle this scenario by enabling trained pharmacists to provide high-level pharmaceutical care services.

2. Cost-Effective Healthcare delivery

In terms of an economic point of view, starting up a new community pharmacy involved more than the cost involved in the equipment and recruitment of trained pharmacists for telepharmacy. Moreover, one well-trained pharmacist is able to provide service to multiple sites and cover a large population under telepharmacy platform.

3. Greater Patients Satisfaction

Telepharmacy ensures greater satisfaction of patients with regard to the pharmaceutical-related information service. This can be done via online chat, discussion through forums, posting drug information, new updates on product information, adverse drug reactions, sharing databases, and virtual learning. A study on a patient survey in Queensland, Australia reported that the public is very satisfied with the service that they received via telepharmacy.

What is the barrier to telepharmacy in Malaysia?

Telepharmacy undoubtedly is a great concept, however, it is sometimes challenging to put into practice. Some barriers and challenges which make this new concept of healthcare delivery to become practical in a real-world scenario:

1. High Start-up Cost

Being the novel healthcare platform in Malaysia, this service experiences operational and resource challenges. The start-up of telepharmacy (hardware, software, connectivity, and operational cost) involves considerable time, effort, and money.

2. Security of Information

Another aspect of the challenge involves the transmission of personal and health-related information on the internet. The security and integrity of patient data are of paramount importance when determining the information technology setup of a telepharmacy system. Security of information becomes a concern because it is essential to maintain the data under a secured system.

3. Technology Literacy

Another barrier to the implementation in Malaysia is the reluctance or inability to use the technology. This is mainly involved the elderly population who are suspicious of technology. When face to face interaction is not present, the pharmacist’s ability to fully access the patient’s condition might be hindered

My Thoughts

Telepharmacy should become an integral part of modern pharmacy practice that has the potential to provide quality pharmaceutical services such as medication management, patient counseling, and drug information. A well-developed system, however, can change the practice of pharmacy that is beneficial to communities, hospitals, and community pharmacies that deliver these services.

I believe telepharmacy has the potential to improve the quality of healthcare and make it more accessible to more people in the future. It may provide the opportunities to make healthcare services more efficient, better coordinated, and closer to home. We encourage more research and potential start-up to be initiated in Malaysia.

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