3 keys to effective pharmacy HIT strategy


Some tips for pharmacists adopting EHRs, including what to tell your vendors.

There is no doubt that pharmacists should play a key role in health IT (HIT) and health information exchanges (HIE). However, some healthcare IT experts are asking what value pharmacy data brings to HIEs and what types of care delivered by pharmacists would provide value to patients if clinical data were exchanged with other healthcare providers?

Shelly SpiroAt October’s 2015 annual meeting of the National Community Pharmacists Association in Washington, D.C., Shelly Spiro, Executive Director, Pharmacy HIT Collaborative, discussed the integration of pharmacists within this national HIT infrastructure and pharmacy's role in interoperability.

See also: Technology use in hospital pharmacy increases

Spiro presented a roadmap that pharmacy practice can follow in adoption of pharmacist electronic health records (EHRs) and facilitation of safe and effective medication use through integration of pharmacist-provided documentation of patient-care services with data provided by patients and other healthcare providers.

The collaborative

The Pharmacy HIT Collaborative is a group of nine professional pharmacy associations representing more that 250,000 members practicing in a variety of healthcare-related settings.

See also: Just 10% of healthcare organizations using data, analytics

The HIT Collaborative's mission is to advocate for members through education of key stakeholders in the meaningful use of HIT and the inclusion of pharmacists within a technology-enabled integrated healthcare system.

The three major objectives and goals of the Pharmacy HIT Collaborative, Spiro said, are:

·      Access. To ensure that HIT supports pharmacists in delivery of healthcare services

·      Connectivity. To achieve pharmacists' integration within HIEs

·      Quality. To support national quality initiatives enabled by HIT

"We want to focus on how pharmacists access health IT, how they exchange that with other healthcare providers, so that its part of the connectivity aspect," Spiro told attendees.

In addressing strategic direction and where the industry needs to be in five years, Spiro stressed connectivity, quality, and interoperability. Systems are interoperable, she said, when they are able to exchange data and present it so that a user can understand it.


Working with vendors

Spiro pointed out that physicians and hospitals exchange clinical information because they are working within a network contained within their own systems.

"What we're talking about is getting your system vendors to adopt different technology in relationship to creating documents like a claim, but instead of a claim you're creating an electronic structure document," said Spiro.        

Information exchange during such events as transitions of care or patient discharge is important, Spiro said.

"System vendors are not prepared to do that because as customers, you are not asking them to do that. You have to ask them for this type of functionality," Spiro said.

What is needed is participation by pharmacy practitioners who are really interested in making a difference, Spiro said. "The last thing you want is technical people to make decisions on the care of our patients, because then we get something that is not useful for us."

"The whole idea behind this is we're allowing our systems to dictate our workflow of the practice of pharmacy. It is up to us as practitioners to show our system vendors the way we want our system to work for us."

Information exchange

The key, she said, is to collect documents and exchange information.

Ideally, said Spiro, pharmacists should be performing clinical functions on a laptop, desktop, or tablet in one place and not have to stop what they’re doing to go access another EHR system such as Cerner or Epic to obtain information.      

Not only should a system be able to capture that information and prepare it for exchange, said Spiro; it should also be able to receive information such as lab data through the connectivity of HIEs.

"If we can do interoperability exchange, this is the key. In order to do that, you have to able to use standards. You, the customer, have to be working with your system vendor to get to that point. You need to capture data in a way that can be tagged for quality measures." 

Anthony Vecchione is a healthcare journalist based in New Jersey.

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