Medication management of COVID-19 patients during transition to virtual models of care: a qualitative study

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Hattingh, H Laetitia
Edmunds, Catherine
Gillespie, Brigid M
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INTRODUCTION: Expansion of hospital service models was one of the strategies implemented to manage the COVID-19 pandemic through virtual models of care. COVID-19 patients were hospital inpatients transferred to virtual wards and managed outside the hospital. Pharmacists had to provide distance medication management and support services. Virtual care patient support incorporated telehealth consultations by doctors, pharmacists and nurses. This study explored hospital clinicians' experiences and perspectives on medication management and safety issues of the COVID-19 patients transferred from inpatient units (IPUs) to virtual models of care at the time of transfer. METHODS: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with purposively selected doctors, pharmacists and nurses involved in the management of COVID-19 patients in a virtual model of care (home or hotel). Clinicians were interviewed face-to-face or via MS Teams between March and May 2022. An interview schedule included 13 questions and prompts to explore perceptions of medication management and safety aspects. RESULTS: Twenty clinicians were interviewed: six doctors, seven pharmacists, and seven nurses. The average interview time was 26 min (SD: 4.7; range 21-39). Four major medication management and safety themes emerged from the data: (1) complexities involved in efficient handover between IPU and virtual models of care; (2) lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities between hospital and primary care clinicians; (3) communication challenges when pharmacists work remotely; and (4) proactive management of specific medication safety risks. A common thread throughout the themes was concerns for potential impact on patient safety. CONCLUSION: Overall, clinicians were supportive of the virtual models although patient safety issues were raised that need to be addressed in the development of future services. The results from this study may inform improvements in medication safety implementation of future virtual models of care.

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Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice
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© The Author(s) 2023. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
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Pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences
COVID-19 model of care
Medication management
Patient safety
Virtual ward
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Hattingh, HL; Edmunds, C; Gillespie, BM, Medication management of COVID-19 patients during transition to virtual models of care: a qualitative study, Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice, 2023, 16, pp. 127