A strategy of providing outdoor medicine dispensing services for outpatients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Chuang HC https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9279-0043
Chang YL https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2076-0990
Liou JH https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0094-5130
Chen HM https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8652-8137


Outdoor medicine dispensing services, Telemedicine, COVID-19


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has created dramatic challenges for healthcare systems around the world, including Taiwan. At the end of January 2022, there were 17,951 confirmed cases and 851 deaths nationwide, while the COVID-19 vaccination coverage rate in Taiwan was only 80.8%, making it hard to defend against the quick mutation of the virus, which gave rise to variants, such as Omicron. Objective(s): To safeguard the rights of patients to receive medicines in a safe way, we offered three new pharmaceutical services, including an outdoor medicine dispensing refillable prescription service, telemedicine, and a queue management system. The purpose of this article is to share our successful experience and to investigate the impact of outdoor pharmaceutical services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: In order to provide patients with an outdoor medicine dispensing refillable prescription service and telemedicine service, prior arrangement through a booking system was required. Patients could obtain a queue ticket through a multi-media intelligent serving machine or the counter. We also relocated one of our counters from the pharmacy department to the front lobby during the morning peak hours. Then we gave surveys via paper questionnaires in 2020 and Google Forms in 2021 to confirm that the services were helpful. Results: A total of 24,248 person-times were recorded for chronic disease patients with refillable prescriptions visiting our hospital in 2020, compared with 14,134 persontimes in 2021. For the queue management system, the total number of person-times in 2020 was 26,670, which relieved about a quarter of the waiting outpatient burden. Furthermore, use of telemedicine totaled 3,369 person-times. A high proportion (over 90%) of patients reported being satisfied with these services. Conclusions: The three new pharmaceutical services not only prevented patients from interrupting their medications during the epidemic period, but also reduced the risk of contagion. All three services provided outpatients with a safe and low-risk method of picking up their medications, and a high proportion of patients were satisfied with these services

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