Pharmacies are busily expanding into providing medical services, including providing basic healthcare screenings and immunization services. As a result, they are becoming healthcare providers, over and above their traditional roles. But just how well they are able to integrate within the healthcare continuum over the long term depends upon the strength of the bonds they are able to build with payers and medical providers … and those relationships are rooted in data connectivity.
Pharmacies will be glad to know that healthcare information exchange solutions are enabling a new level of information sharing that can help them more tightly connect healthcare communities, enabling seamless communications with health plans and providers, making them an integral component of the healthcare ecosystem. And driving this connectivity are new technologies such as clinical data repositories (CDRs) that are able to draw information from a wide variety of clinical and administrative sources and consolidate it in a single database, providing actionable information at the point of care.
This was evidenced in a recent CDR pilot project, which exhibited how clinicians could leverage the information to produce more through and accurate preemptive care plans and participate more effectively in patient population management. For example, with access to more complete regional demographic and patient mix statistics, participants also identified how the CDR could became a tool for provider-health plan negotiations.
And while the project didn’t include pharmacies specifically, it is not hard to extrapolate the benefits pharmacies could potentially achieve with access to a CDR, as well as the contributions they can make to collaborative care models. They will be especially empowered with accompanying analytical platforms that can assist in medication reconciliation and other pharmacy-enabled tasks. With information communicated via a user-friendly dashboard, pharmacists can have an important foundation for working with providers and payers, making decisions as to whether different drug therapies are necessary or whether a patient should receive a particular immunization.
With access to a complete set of data delivered via clinical exchange technologies, pharmacies—like their medical provider and health plan counterparts—can have a consistent view of patients, allowing them to collaborate on care delivery decisions. Pharmacists could identify gaps in patient medication therapies allowing for developing care plans with medication recommendations. They could also become a vital patient safety ally by performing medication reconciliation and assisting physicians in indentifying potentially damaging drug-to-drug or drug-to-allergy interactions.
While pharmacists have a long road ahead to integrate more fully with the broader medical community, they are capable of achieving a level of collaboration envisioned by accountable care and other value-based delivery and reimbursement models, making them a valuable future partner in the evolving healthcare marketplace.
Emdeon VP of product innovation
Gene Boerger, Emdeon Vice President of Product Innovation, has more than 25 years of healthcare industry experience. He specializes in technologies that assist healthcare stakeholders in becoming clinically and financially integrated for true care coordination.