Existing laws in most states in the USA require that pharmacists be present in pharmacies to oversee the work of the pharmacy technicians, to counsel patients, etc. However, migration out from rural areas, an aging rural population, a tough economic climate, and the disproportionately-high expenses of hiring and retaining pharmacists in rural pharmacies have driven many rural pharmacies to unprofitability and closure. Roby Miller in Iowa came up with the solution - a telepresence that allows rural pharmacies to run their day to day operations without needing a pharmacist to set foot into the store. This provided a lifeline to struggling pharmacies through cost savings and new efficiencies, and to the rural communities that depended on them.
Untenable costs of staffing with pharmacists inspired Roby's solution of letting pharmacies "share" a pharmacist through telepresence, ensuring pharmacies' viability in smaller markets and rural USA.
Roby's initial motivation was to help his family keep its rural pharmacy business afloat. His family had for many years operated a string of rural pharmacies in Iowa, and those were facing imminent closure from the high expenses of staffing each location with pharmacists.
In the age of Skype, LogMeIn and TeamViewer, it might seem easy to conceptualize telepharmacy just as telemedicine. But consider this - millions of people had seen apples fall from trees until Issac Newton. Roby's achievement was not just in coming up with a viable telepharmacy concept, but in also getting the buy-in from key decision leaders and lawmakers in Iowa (and thereafter, other states). He and TelePharm are truly altering the landscape of pharmacy services by "reincarnating" the pharmacy through telepresence technology.
I met Roby Miller at a business pitch competition in Iowa. Both he and I are alumni of the University of Iowa. He gave me permission to narrate the story of his innovation. More about him and TelePharm at https://www.telepharm.com/about/
I was unable to create and upload the required content (file) for this contest when I tried to do so using the business center computer at a hotel (I am traveling). Neither could I find the "submit final entry" button, even though I typing this at 9:45 AM Eastern Time, well within the submission deadline. Therefore, after losing my typed content on the business center computer, I started retyping Roby's story online into this site: http://shrib.com/hUc8UjLnJR7icqk
(in lieu of creating/uploading a story content file). Thanks.