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NEW YORK The organizations representing the nation’s chain and independent drug stores have requested a chunk of the $2 billion that the White House has set aside in its economic stimulus package to help spur the adoption of electronic medical records and healthcare IT.
In a letter to Department of Health and Human Services health IT coordinator David Blumenthal, National Association of Chain Drug Stores VP government affairs Kevin Nicholson and National Community Pharmacists Association SVP government affairs John Coster wrote, “As the most consumer-accessible health care provider, pharmacy’s critical role should be recognized in the development of an interoperable healthcare delivery system.”
Indeed, pharmacies are a first line of health care for many patients, providing everything from OTC remedies to – increasingly – vaccinations and clinics. For that reason, they will need to be able to communicate efficiently and effectively with other healthcare stakeholders, including hospitals and physicians.
The big chains have sufficient size and scope to adopt e-prescribing and other healthcare information technology, but regional chains and independent pharmacies may not, and Nicholson and Coster asked in their letter for priority consideration for smaller stores and chains. For many regional chains and independents, a few thousand dollars here and there could go a long way toward modernizing the American healthcare system.