Pharmacy has long been a health information technology (HIT) leader by exchanging patient information electronically to achieve point-of-care, third-party billing, but this technology’s potential benefits for patients and the practice of pharmacy are far from being realized. A recently formed pharmacy collaborative is making important strides toward that vision.
While local and regional physician groups, health systems and other organizations have begun to exchange patient clinical data through health information exchanges (HIE), few pharmacies are a part of these exchanges for various reasons. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included provisions which promote the accelerated adoption of electronic medical records which are capable of “meaningful use” and have extramural interoperability; that is, the ability to pull together bits of clinical data from other providers participating in meaningful use activities. As a whole, this is what makes up a patient’s electronic health record (EHR).
Today, it is highly unlikely that a community pharmacy is accessing a patient EHR with existing pharmacy management software. NCPA and eight other national pharmacy organizations are working together to address the changing HIT needs of the profession and influence policy with a unified voice through the Pharmacy e-HIT Collaborative. One goal of the Collaborative is promotion of the Pharmacist Provider EHR (PP-EHR) functional profile. The PP-EHR profile has been developed to guide pharmacy system vendors to adopt functions that help pharmacists in all practice settings exchange clinical data with other health care providers. The PP-EHR has yet to be certified, unlike other EHR profiles such as the Behavioral Health, Emergency Department or Long Term Care-Nursing Home EHRs.
In the near future, NCPA and the other members of the Pharmacy e-HIT Collaborative envision pharmacists accessing clinical information to conduct more effective medication therapy management (MTM) sessions and, in turn, contributing clinical information collected in prescription counseling, MTMs or other care encounters to the patient’s EHR. Examples of information that can be shared include lab values, patient allergies, medical conditions, medication fill record and immunization records.
Key to the adoption of the EHR for pharmacists will be the availability of a certified EHR function in your pharmacy management system. Talk to your vendor now and ask about their plans to incorporate the PP-EHR Functional Profile within your system. Having access to this functionality will allow you to help achieve better health outcomes for patients, document in a standard format, communicate with other health care providers and bill third parties and others for pharmacist-provided care services.