“It’s not rocket science, and it doesn’t cost a tremendous amount of money”: How often do you hear those two statements in one breath, when the subject’s rural health care? But that’s how Ann Rathke of North Dakota University, Fargo, described the state’s telepharmacy program.

With rural pharmacies closing all over the state, the legislature amended strict laws on pharmacies in 2001 and opened the way for, now, 67 telepharmacy centers. Dave Kolpack reported on the program for AP, focusing on Arthur, N.D. “Pharmacy technicians” validate prescriptions with full-fledged pharamacists via remote cameras. “Once the prescription is approved, patients have a mandatory private consultation with pharmacists through real-time video and audio.”

Texas, Vermont, Wyoming, and other states are considering adopting such a system, an alternative for patients who otherwise would have to travel long distances for medicine or order drugs through the mail. According to Rathke, purchasing and installing the necessary equipment for each telepharmacy in North Dakota has cost about $18,000.

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