Spokane Journal of Business

Telepharmacy firm opens office in Nevada

Second location said first step in company's plan to grow in western U.S.

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Medication Review Inc., a Spokane-based healthcare company that provides what are called telepharmacy services to small and medium-sized hospitals, has opened a new office in Gardnerville, Nev., as a step toward growth in the western U.S.

Telepharmacy services involve the use of off-site pharmacists to review and enter medication orders into a hospital's pharmacy information system. Medication Review, launched in 2005, also provides on-site pharmacy management services for hospitals.

"Nevada speaks more to our growth plan," says Adam Gelhausen, Medication Review's chief financial officer. "Our plan is to grow in different regions in the West Coast and central part of the United States."

The Nevada site will help the company better serve hospitals in that state and California, among other Western sites, he says.

"It's important for us to be close to the communities we serve," Gelhausen adds. "Future satellite offices will be added based on business growth, but there is nothing in place right now."

The company currently has 15 employees in Spokane, and during the next year, it plans to hire 10 full-time employees, about half of whom are expected to be located here. Three or four of the new hires will be regional sales representatives who likely will be brought on in the next six months, with two of those based in Spokane and the rest in other regions.

Gelhausen says the company is licensed to provide pharmacy services in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada. Licensing for California and Colorado is pending.

"We plan to be licensed in several more states by the end of the year. We're looking forward to continuing our growth," he says.

The northern Nevada office will be staffed with a clinical pharmacist and regional sales representative. It will be managed by Jeanette Bidondo, pharmacist and director of telepharmacy, who recently moved with her family from Spokane to Gardnerville.

Gelhausen says small, rural hospitals sometimes can't afford to staff full-time pharmacists, who he says make on average about $120,000 a year. These hospitals at the same time must deal with federal and state regulations and requirements, limited resources, and a national shortage of pharmacists.

Medication Review's telepharmacy services use clinical pharmacists to review medications for proper dosage, interactions with other drugs a patient may be taking, and other health issues affecting that patient.

With the service, rural hospitals maintain automated drug-dispensing devices and sometimes employ pharmacy technicians. Via a secure Internet connection, patient information and digital images of physicians' orders are transmitted by the hospital to Medication Review staff members, who provide remote review and order entry of physicians' orders.

"We do a lot of onsite review as well to bolster our services," says Gelhausen. In September 2009, the company had signed contracts to serve four rural hospitals in Washington and has since "grown well beyond that," Gelhausen says, although the company doesn't disclose the exact number of hospitals served.

Treva Lind
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