The rise of telepharmacy services during the COVID-19 pandemic: A comprehensive assessment of services in the United Arab Emirates
Main Article Content
COVID-19, UAE, Telepharmacy, Community Pharmacy
Objective: The study aimed to explore changes in community pharmacies’ processes in response to the pandemic in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and factors affecting the adoption of these changes. Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted using a self-administered questionnaire that was distributed to licensed community pharmacists in the UAE. The survey used to collect information on the type of telepharmacy services and related topics such as constraints and supports. The evaluation of services was done for three periods: before, during and after lockdown. Results: The number of completed surveys was 391. The majority of the participants were under 35 years old (79.5%), female (65.0%), with a bachelor’s degree (82.6%), and working in a pharmacy group (70.6%). Pharmacies provided the services by phone (95.6%) and/or messaging applications (80.0%) such as WhatsApp and Messenger. The community pharmacies provided a variety of services using telepharmacy tools such as managing of mild diseases, dispensing and delivering prescribed and OTC medications, general health information, and services for patients with chronic disease. The main factors that had significant effects on several telepharmacy services were pharmacies’ type (group/chain vs. individual) and the number of pharmacists in the pharmacy (p < 0.05). Lack of time, training and financial support were the main barriers associated with telepharmacy services among individual pharmacies.Conclusion: Telepharmacy supported the work of community pharmacies during the COVID-19 pandemic by facilitating the provision of pharmaceutical services. Although the occurrence of several financial and technical problems, it appeared less frequently in pharmacy chains with a large number of pharmacists.
2. Shamim S, Khan M, Kharaba Z, et al. Potential strategies for combating COVID-19. Arch Virol. 2020;165(11):2419-2438. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00705-020-04768-3
3. Visacri MB, Figueiredo IV, Lima TM. Role of pharmacist during the COVID-19 pandemic: A scoping review. Res Social AdmPharm. 2021;17(1):1799-1806. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sapharm
4. Sami S, Marma K, Chakraborty A, et al. A comprehensive review on global contributions and recognition of pharmacyprofessionals amidst COVID-19 pandemic: moving from present to future. Futur J Pharm Sci. 2021;7:119. https://doi.org/10.1186/s43094-021-00273-9
5. Elbeddini A, Prabaharan T, Almasalkhi S, et al. Pharmacists and COVID-19. J Pharm Policy Pract. 2020;13:36. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40545-020-00241-3
6. Kretchy I, Asiedu-Danso M, Kretchy J. Medication management and adherence during the COVID-19 pandemic: Perspectives andexperiences from low-and middle-income countries. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;17(1):2023-2026. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sapharm.2020.04.007
7. Koster ES, Philbert D, Bouvy ML. Impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the provision of pharmaceutical care in communitypharmacies. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;17(1):2002-2004. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sapharm.2020.07.001
8. Muflih SM, Al-Azzam S, Abuhammad S, et al. Pharmacists’ experience, competence and perception of telepharmacy technology in response to COVID-19. Int J Clin Pract. 2021;75(7):e14209. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijcp.14209
9. Telecommunication and digital government regulatory authority. Fact sheet. 2021.
10. Mubark A, AlHashmi N. Report on the Growth of the Sharing Economy and the Impact of the COVID-19 (Quarter 2 - 2020).Ministry of Economic. 2020.
11. Ministry of Health and Prevention. Federal Law No. (8) of Year 2019 On Medical Products, the Profession of Pharmacy andPharmaceutical Facilities. 2019.
12. Hasan S, Sulieman H, Chapman C, et al. Community pharmacy services in the United Arab Emirates, International Journal ofPharmacy Practice. 2012;20(4):218-225. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2042-7174.2011.00182.x
13. Global Media Insight. 2021. UAE Internet statistics. Dubai Digital Interactive Agency. 2021.
14. Health Policies and Standards Department. Standards for Telehealth Services published. Health Regulation Sector (2019),Dubai Health Authority publication. 2019.
15. Healthcare Licensing & Medical Education Division, Department of Health. DOH standard on delivery of pharmacy medications.2020.
16. Duncan G, Gautam S. Coronavirus: UAE records first case. The National. 2020.
17. Telecommunication and digital government regulatory authority. Handling the COVID-19 outbreak. 2021.
18. Kosmisky D, Everhart S, Griffiths C. Implementation, Evolution and Impact of ICU Telepharmacy Services Across a Health CareSystem. Hospital Pharmacy. 2019;54(4):232-240. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018578719851720
19. Moreno S, Gioia F. Telepharmacy. Ready for its global implementation? Farm Hosp. 2020;1;44(4):125-126. https://doi.org/10.7399/fh.11536
20. Sherman J. Telepharmacy? A Promising Alternative for Rural Communities. Pharmacy Times. 2007.
21. Omboni S, Tenti M. Telepharmacy for the management of cardiovascular patients in the community. Trends in Cardiovascular
Medicine. 2019;29(2):109-117. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tcm.2018.07.002
22. Sarkar R, Metzger B, Sayre H, et al. Telepharmacy and Access to Pharmaceutical Services in Rural Areas. Perspectives in HealthInformation Management. 2018:1-14.
23. Rayes IK, Hassali MA, Abduelkarem AR. The role of pharmacists in developing countries: The current scenario in the UnitedArab Emirates. Saudi Pharm J. 2015;23(5):470-4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsps.2014.02.004
24. Elbeddini A, Prabaharan T, Almasalkhi S, et al. Barriers to conducting deprescribing in the elderly population amid the COVID-19
pandemic. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;17(1):1942-1945. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sapharm.2020.05.025
25. Baldoni S, Amenta F, Ricci G. Telepharmacy Services: Present Status and Future Perspectives: A Review. Medicina. 2019;55(7):327.
26. Poudel A, Nissen L. Telepharmacy: a pharmacist’s perspective on the clinical benefits and challenges. Integrated PharmacyResearch and Practice. 2016;5:75-82. https://doi.org/10.2147/IPRP.S101685
27. Martin RD. Leveraging telecommuting pharmacists in the post-COVID-19 world. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2020;60(6):e113-e115.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.japh.2020.07.026
28. Scott DM, Friesner DL, Rathke AM, et al. Medication error reporting in rural critical access hospitals in the North DakotaTelepharmacy Project. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2014;71(1):58-67. https://doi.org/10.2146/ajhp120533
29. Ibrahim O, Ibrahim R, Abdel-Qader D, et al. Evaluation of Telepharmacy Services in Light of COVID-19. Telemed J E Health.2020;27(6):649-656. https://doi.org/10.1089/tmj.2020.0283