Pharmacy-physician partnership hikes efficiencies

October 19, 2015

Sharing electronic health records (EHRs) access between physicians and pharmacists can improve workflow efficiencies for both, according to a new study.

Sharing electronic health records (EHRs) access between physicians and pharmacists can improve workflow efficiencies for both, according to a new study.

The study, authored by Megan E. Keller, PharmD, director of clinical pharmacy services at Doctors Hospital Family Practice in Grove City, Ohio, and colleagues was published in the Fall 2015 issue of Perspectives in Health Information Management. The study was funded by the NACDS Foundation.

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Keller and colleagues wanted to look into EHR collaboration since studies show that pharmacist involvement in patient’s medication therapy improves adherence and reduces costs. However, since it is not financially feasible for many physicians to employ full-time pharmacists, collaboration is often the best alternative.

“Exploring strategies for physicians and pharmacists to communicate more effectively can be beneficial for patients, physicians, and pharmacists. Sharing EHR access is one way that collaboration can benefit patients while simultaneously improving workflow efficiencies for both the physician and the pharmacy,” Keller and her colleagues wrote.

To that end, a Kroger store in Ohio and a local physician’s office established an EHR collaboration pilot project. The Kroger pharmacist “identified that many patients who received care at a nearby physician’s office and picked up prescriptions at the pharmacy had low health literacy, multiple chronic conditions, and a lengthy medication list. Patients frequently had many questions about their medications and were unsure how to manage their health conditions,” which resulted in multiple daily calls to the physician’s office.

So, the pharmacist approached the physicians’ office about an MTM pilot program, in which the physician’s office securely faxed medication lists to the pharmacy for each patient being seen. However, the pharmacists realized that they could better reinforce the physician’s treatment plan and answer more patient questions if they had access to lab data, physician notes, and other information via EHRs. The relationship was expanded to allow pharmacists to access to the physicians’ EHRs and document notes in the system.

 

The physicians and pharmacists both realized significant benefits. “Pharmacists were able to more readily collect data related to patients’ medical conditions, prescribed medications, lab data, and treatment plans. Communication between the pharmacists and providers was significantly enhanced,” Keller noted. Additionally, the pharmacists and providers were able to enhance their professional relationship, resulting in increased trust between healthcare professionals.”