Health & Medical

Using communications tech, Intermountain redesigns pharmacy companies for pandemic period

The fast unfold of the novel coronavirus disrupted many normal processes and protocols in hospitals throughout the nation. Likewise, the pandemic disrupted scientific and operational workflows for pharmacies, forcing pharmacists to find new methods of performing frequent duties to guard care workforce members and the group.


Watching the impression of COVID-19 throughout the nation, leaders at Murray, Utah-based Intermountain Medical Center rapidly created a distant pharmacy companies plan previous to a fast rise of coronavirus circumstances in Utah. The plan was designed to restrict the chance of publicity to the virus and mitigate potential staffing shortages as a result of sickness or quarantine.

The targets had been to guard most people, sufferers, scientific pharmacists and different caregivers whereas sustaining excessive requirements of pharmacy scientific companies.

“Proactive measures helped guarantee pharmacy personnel had applicable distant entry and had been geared up with the proper expertise and assets that enabled them to take part remotely in each day affected person care rounds and consults and in verifying treatment orders and delivering treatment training to sufferers,” stated Gabe Fontaine, PharmD, scientific pharmacy coordinator, crucial care medication, at Intermountain Medical Center, and an affiliate professor at Intermountain Healthcare.


Intermountain Medical Center is a stage I trauma heart, which features a complete stroke heart. It serves 4 surrounding states and is the biggest of Intermountain Healthcare’s 25 hospitals. It has 504 inpatient beds and 80 emergency division beds with roughly 90,000 annual ED visits.

When the distant pharmacy companies plan was carried out, there have been 157 pharmacy workers, together with 73 pharmacists and seven residents.

“The plan, designed by a multidisciplinary workforce, was a hybrid of distant and on-site pharmacy companies,” Fontaine defined. “It was created to stop publicity and subsequent sickness, proactively tackle potential staffing shortages, and guarantee uninterrupted scientific pharmacy companies.

“As extra was realized concerning the unfold of the virus, the hospital developed a rotating schedule to maintain workgroups collectively on-site after which alternate by distant assignments,” he continued. “There had been additionally contingency plans on the prepared if a sure variety of pharmacists grew to become unwell or required quarantine.”

“The expertise was crucial for clinicians to attach with the proper workforce member, particularly if the contingency staffing plan was in place.”

Gabe Fontaine, PharmD, Intermountain Healthcare

The plan outlined the methods that Intermountain Medical Center would implement to consolidate personnel in line with the variety of wholesome pharmacists, and likewise based mostly on competencies of these out there pharmacists.

“Clinical and IT workforce members implementing the distant pharmacy companies plan knew that its success depended squarely on seamless and efficient communication between the pharmacists working remotely and on-site hospital caregivers and sufferers,” he stated.


To allow quick and environment friendly collaboration between distant pharmacists and their scientific colleagues contained in the hospital, Intermountain Medical Center relied on the Vocera Badge, a hands-free, voice-controlled communication gadget that care workforce members have been utilizing to attach and collaborate.

Additionally, workers leveraged their telehealth audio-visual gear, an integral a part of Intermountain’s telehealth platform, often called Connect Care Pro, that contains microphones and high-definition video cameras.

“The wearable Vocera gadget permits caregivers to name and join with one another in actual time just by saying a reputation, function or group,” Fontaine defined. “There is not any want to recollect cellphone numbers or know who’s on name. The gadget additionally permits customers to set reminders, go away messages and ahead calls to different cellular units and landline telephones.

“Incoming calls to distant pharmacists’ hands-free units had been rerouted to their cell telephones or soft-phone traces linked to their laptops,” he continued. “Remote scientific pharmacists leveraged the expertise to contact physicians and different on-site caregivers to collaborate on affected person rounds, consults, scientific suggestions, digital huddles and affected person training.”

Virtual huddles grew to become important to establish and tackle gaps in protection. Pharmacists working remotely checked in with nursing managers and caregivers, who wore the badges, to proactively tackle questions and considerations on the level of care. Pharmacists did not must know names or numbers of nurse managers in each unit. They may merely name by function.

“The expertise was crucial for clinicians to attach with the proper workforce member, particularly if the contingency-staffing plan was in place,” he stated. “Under the contingency-staffing plan, pharmacists and caregivers additionally used immediate messaging software program to speak emergent wants all through the day.

“Nurses may immediately hook up with their flooring or unit-based pharmacist through Vocera to debate new treatment orders, ask questions and relay data from the frontline care groups,” he added.


The distant pharmacy companies mannequin led to a rise in interdisciplinary collaboration on scientific and operational initiatives, largely stemming from improved connectivity between care workforce members, no matter location. Given the success of the distant pharmacy companies, Intermountain Medical Center plans to increase numerous options of this system when the pandemic recedes.

To proceed defending the general public, sufferers and caregivers, Intermountain Medical Center has established an intermittent work-from-home program for pharmacists who’re present process COVID-19 testing or exhibiting signs.

“The distant companies plan additionally revealed new makes use of for its patient-monitoring expertise, prompting management to reinforce these capabilities to enhance take care of critically unwell sufferers,” Fontaine famous. “Additionally, the usage of present audio and visible assets led to elevated attendance for scientific workforce conferences and displays.”


“When time is of the essence, it is very important have a look at the assets and applied sciences already in place and reimagine new methods to make use of them,” Fontaine suggested. “Listen to frontline healthcare employees at each stage of the group. They typically use expertise in methods past the unique intent.

“By leveraging present expertise assets, Intermountain Medical Center has been capable of redesign pharmacy companies throughout a pandemic whereas defending sufferers, pharmacists and different caregivers, and preserving glorious scientific pharmacy protection to help optimum affected person care,” he added.

Other well being methods contemplating course of modifications to enhance their security protocols may obtain comparable outcomes by adopting a comparable method, however it is very important be proactive, he stated. Have the proper applied sciences, assets and contingency plans in place earlier than the subsequent disaster, he concluded.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the author: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button