ASHP plans campaign for standard patient med list

July 23, 2007

Time for a push for greater use of medication lists by consumers, with a standard format for those lists.

The representatives agreed on recommended data elements for a standardized list. They identified barriers to its use as well as some potential resolutions, said Daniel J. Cobaugh, Pharm.D., research director at the ASHP Foundation. An ASHP release noted: "While many organizations have developed medication lists, there is no national standard regarding the data they should contain."

The group agreed, ASHP said, that the standardized list must be simple and include only current medicines. Among the elements participants agreed to were:

The group also agreed that research should test the list and how it is used to determine if it affects outcomes in therapy, safety, and economics and perhaps even quality-of-life outcomes for patients.

This campaign is a natural continuation of ASHP's continuity-of-care initiatives, the association said. In a recent white paper, the ASHP Continuity of Care Task Force said, "Deficiencies in sharing patient information are a core contributor to the discontinuity of care and a logical precursor to medical errors."

Cynthia Brennan, Pharm.D., ASHP outgoing president, said this work grew, in part, from discussions with the American Pharmacists Association that included recognition of continuity problems as patients go from the community to the hospital and back again: "We can't figure out really how to talk to each other without having a true electronic health record."

Eventually, she said, the organization would like to see both hospital and community pharmacists helping patients update their lists and adding the pharmacists' name and contact information to the document. The work will move toward harmonizing the list with the current certification process for electronic records-including certification of personal health records controlled by the patients-that is being driven by the Department of Health & Human Services, said Brennan.

Cobaugh said the conference representatives recognized that the country is moving toward use of personal health records, and ASHP will strive to ensure that its list will be consistent with what is in those records. "We would want to use the result of the conference to inform about what is happening at the level of personal health record development, so that organizations that are developing personal health records are integrating our thinking into their development."

If the campaign can increase patients' awareness of the importance of a medication list, he said, "an obvious next step" would be increasing awareness of the importance of the personal health record.