A new, digital option may help some small town pharmacies stay open in Iowa when a bill Governor Branstad signed into law today takes effect July 1.
“It is important that we deliver health care in more modern ways and more local settings,” Branstad says.
The legislation expands a pilot project and will let so-called “tele-pharmacy” services go statewide in communities with more than 500 residents.
“Many Iowa towns including Zearing, West Liberty, Brooklyn and State Center have already taken advantage of the pilot program, but we know many more would like to have a tele-pharmacy,” Branstad says.
Roby Miller owns TelePharm, an Iowa City company that’s offering the services of a licensed pharmacist to remote locations in 12 other states. He started the business in 2012, out of his father’s pharmacy in Victor, Iowa. That’s where the state’s first “tele-pharmacy” pilot project was launched.
“There’s a lot of pharmacies that have closed in rural Iowa over the last couple of years, so this will bring back a lot of pharmacies,” Miller says. “It will also save a lot of pharmacies from closing.”
Miller’s dad, two uncles and an aunt are all pharmacists. Miller’s software lets someone at a pharmacy to contact his business to get a prescription verified electronically by a licensed pharmacist. The drugs can then be dispensed from that small town store by a certified technician.
“We get calls from small town pharmacy owners, independent owners that are wanting to convert their store to a tele-pharmacy because they don’t really have an option,” Miller says.
Now, qualifying pharmacies without a pharmacist on staff will be able to offer customers “tele-pharmacy services.” Miller, who is 29, currently employs 18 people, but he expects the business will grow significantly over the next few years now that it can operate in Iowa.