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HIT expands pharmacy’s role in health care

BY Michael Johnsen

Steve Friedman of PDX-NHIN-Rx.com, Christopher Thomsen of Kirby Lester and David Yakimischak of Surescripts, pictured above, discuss the future of pharmacy HIT at an Insight Session on Monday.

BOSTON — Pharmacy health information technology has come a long way in the past five years, but there is still a significant amount of opportunity for pharmacy operations to plug into the HIT network — opportunities that will augment pharmacy’s value to the healthcare system in improving adherence and reducing abandonment. And as pharmacy evolves into more of a service industry, pharmacy’s interconnectivity with other healthcare stakeholders will become critical. 

Christoper Thomsen, VP business development at Kirby Lester; Steve Friedman, VP pharmaceutical trade relations at PDX-NHIN-Rx.com; and David Yakimischak, general manager of medication network services at Surescripts joined together as part of the Insight Session titled “The Missing Connection: Pharmacy HIT Update” on Monday morning.

HIT is becoming a crucial element in pharmacy, Friedman said, particularly in generic utilization, specialty medicines, medication adherence, MTM, Part D Star ratings, network access, regulatory issues and global partnerships. In order to be competitive today, a pharmacy has to have an advanced technology platform that’s scalable and geographically dispersed, as well as has a mobile, clinical exchange as a patient-focused IT platform, he said. 

There is already significant traction in such areas as e-prescribing. In the next five years, about 80% to 90% of the prescriptions in the country will be routed through electronic prescribing, Yakimischak said, from a base of more than half of prescriptions in the country last year. 

“HIT is one of the key issues affecting the expanding role of pharmacy,” Thomsen said. “We’ve done an excellent job in terms of pharmacy with technologies in 20 years,” he added, especially for the first 20 ft. where the order is entered, filled and picked up. “We need to start paying attention now to the last 10 ft., after we’ve prepared the prescription and got all of that information, how do we get that to the patient effectively?” Thomsen asked. The focus should be on capturing the relevant health information that comes through the pharmacy so that the pharmacist can share it in a meaningful and useful way with the patient, Thomsen said. 

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Panelists cite promise of in-store testing

BY Jim Frederick

Cheryl Miller and John Tamerius of Quidel, Karen Mankowski of Meijer, Michael Klepser of Ferris State and Alex Adams of NACDS, pictured above, discuss point-of-care screening in the pharmacy.

BOSTON — With diabetes and other diseases at epidemic levels, the need for more pharmacies to step up and offer accessible, convenient patient screening for a variety of serious and even life-threatening conditions is clear, a panel of pharmacists asserted at Monday’s “Convenient Care — Point of Care Testing in the Pharmacy” session. So, too, is the opportunity to drive new business to the pharmacy through point-of-care testing services, panelists agreed.

Panelists included Michael Klepser, professor of pharmacy practice with Ferris State University in Michigan; Karen Mankowski, VP pharmacy retail operations at Meijer; John Tamerius, SVP clinical and regulatory affairs for Quidel Corp.; and Cheryl Miller, Quidel’s director of strategic operations. The event was moderated by Alex Adams, NACDS VP pharmacy programs.

Point-of-care screening of patients at the pharmacy is rapidly gaining validity among patients and other health professionals, including doctors, as the need for more immediate and responsive health and preventive care services grows.

To advance the concept, Ferris State collaborated with Meijer on a pilot project funded by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation. Under the program, Meijer offered free testing for influenza and strep throat at 12 of its stores. Six of those stores were set up as collaborative practice sites integrated with a local physician.

The results showed real benefits both for patients and participating pharmacies, Mankowski said. Not only did pharmacists catch undiagnosed conditions among some patients, but “1-in-3 patients who came into the test program did not have a primary care physician,” she said.

Although there was “some apprehension” among some pharmacists and “some push back” from a few local doctors, Mankowski said resistance melted away as the value of point-of-care pharmacy-based health screenings became clear. “We view point-of-care testing as a very viable model,” she said.

Klepser added, “This is going to be bigger than immunizations” for retail pharmacy. “Pharmacists are essentially going to be the GPs (general practitioners) of the future.”

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A.T. Kearney, NACDS unveil joint survey results at Total Store Expo

BY David Salazar

BOSTON — Early Monday at the NACDS Total Store Expo, NACDS’ Retail Advisory Board and A.T. Kearney presented the results of the “Winning with Digital Marketing” study that the two organizations undertook. The study provides insights on effectiveness and engagement in digital marketing campaigns based on retailers’ responses.

“The NACDS Total Store Expo is the ideal place for this research to be presented,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said. “The study highlights the importance of retailers and suppliers working collaboratively — not only with each other, but with other departments within their own organizations to make the most of emerging technology. This type of collaboration is one example of the collaboration made possible by this show’s unique format.”

The most common ways in which retailers tried to reach out to customers were the company’s website, email, twitter, Facebook and mobile.

Among the groups’ findings is the fact that retailers use the company’s website as the most prominent place for delivering circulars and creating awareness of the brand. When it comes to awareness, many respondents said they use Facebook and Twitter to drive awareness as well.

When it comes to educating consumers, retailers reported moving more toward mobile platforms, something that respondents said email carries the brunt of. Overall, the study points to digital as an important part of an omnichannel approach for retailers.

“Digital Marketing is becoming a game-changer in retail,” said Todd Huseby, a partner at ATKearney.  “We believe that how companies adopt and adapt with these capabilities will have a long-term impact on successful partnerships between retailers and their suppliers.  We will support this project going forward by releasing companion pieces where we will discuss our interpretations of how individual CPG manufacturers and retailers can use these study results to prepare for the future.”

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