The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Virtual services allow patients to consult with pharmacist­s online

- By Sawa Matsumoto

Services where pharmacist­s can speak with patients online and provide them with instructio­ns on how to take their prescripti­ons have been gaining attention as patients can now receive their medication­s through the mail. Such virtual services are popular among those who want to avoid going outside as a result of the pandemic or who do not have time to go to the pharmacy.

A 58-year-old Saitama woman who su ers from rheumatism has been using the service since the spring. She visits a hospital two hours away and used to pick up her prescripti­on at a pharmacy near there.

e medicine must be refrigerat­ed, and the ice packs are heavy. She also wanted to avoid being outside for long periods due to her compromise­d immune system.

“At the pharmacy, I’m aware of the people behind me who are waiting, but at home, I can ask the pharmacist questions without worrying about that,” she said. “Since my prescripti­on is sent to my house, I don’t have to bring back a lot of medication­s, so that’s also convenient.”

Previously, the online services were only allowed for virtual medical examinatio­ns or examinatio­ns at home, and only if the rst consultati­on was done in person. In March, however, the Health, Labor

and Welfare Ministry allowed online consultati­ons for prescripti­on administra­tion instructio­ns, including the rst consultati­on depending on the pharmacist’s approval, regardless of how a patient receives medical care.

Tokyo-based dispensing

pharmacy company Nihon Chouzai Co. has been providing virtual medication administra­tion instructio­ns since September 2020. A er seeing a doctor at a hospital, patients reserve a time slot to speak to a pharmacist online to receive an explanatio­n on how to take

their medication­s. Prescripti­ons are delivered from the hospitals to pharmacies.

Ain Holdings Inc., the Hokkaido-based operator of Ain pharmacies, has been providing its virtual service since 2020 as well. In February, the company launched a texting chat service in which patients can easily ask their questions to a pharmacist.

ere are services in which the process for patients to receive medical care, have their medication­s explained and get them delivered can all be done through a smartphone. Patients sign up through apps such as “Sokuyaku” and “Clinics,” and make an appointmen­t. Medical examinatio­ns, medication consultati­ons, deliveries and payments are all handled through such apps.


ere are various ways in which patients can receive their prescripti­ons. In May, convenienc­e store operator FamilyMart Co. launched a service that enables their customers to pick up their medication­s at one of the about 2,400 FamilyMart stores in Tokyo. e prescripti­ons will arrive at a speci ed FamilyMart as early as one day a er the patient receives an explanatio­n from a pharmacist at a partner pharmacy, so the patient can receive their medication in a timely manner.

“Receiving online medication instructio­ns is convenient for people who are busy or are afraid of becoming infected, but it could be less informativ­e compared to an in-person consultati­on,” said physician Yuma Mori. “I hope those that use the virtual service will actively ask questions and express their concerns to the pharmacist.” (Nov. 9)

 ?? The Yomiuri Shimbun ?? A pharmacist provides an explanatio­n to a patient online regarding how to take their prescripti­on medication, at a Nihon Chouzai pharmacy in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo.
The Yomiuri Shimbun A pharmacist provides an explanatio­n to a patient online regarding how to take their prescripti­on medication, at a Nihon Chouzai pharmacy in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo.

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