LANSING—The Michigan Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a measure sponsored by Sen. Goeff Hansen that could establish new approaches to the way medical prescriptions are delivered.
Senate Bill 373 would enable pharmacies to conduct pilot projects that could utilize new or expanded technologies or processes to provide patients with better pharmacy products in a more efficient manner.
“This legislation will maintain and enhance patient access to necessary pharmacy services while ensuring the patient’s safety,” said Hansen, R-Hart. “In the pharmacy industry, new technologies and practices have the potential to improve access to products and services for the consumer.”
Hansen said that currently, automated machines are allowed to dispense prescription drugs in limited designated facilities, such as hospitals, hospices and nursing homes. Michigan pharmacists are required to be available for questions from customers each time a new prescription is dispensed, regardless of the location.
However, Michigan law does not take into consideration technology that would allow the customer to communicate with a pharmacist via a video screen. By authorizing the Michigan Board of Pharmacy to conduct a pilot project, dispensing machines could be installed to allow customers to have access to pharmacists via video.
“Authorizing pilot projects, such as the use of video technology, gives pharmacies the ability to explore innovative ideas on a small scale under controlled conditions,” Hansen said. “If these ideas are successful, they could then be offered across Michigan.”
Hansen emphasized that his bill will not affect the doctor-patient relationship.
“Doctors will still be the ones prescribing the medication,” he said. “Pharmacies will simply fill those prescriptions. A patient’s relationship with his or her doctor remains vital to ensure patient safety and effective health care.”
SB 373 has been sent to the Michigan House for consideration.