PHARMACY

N.Y. launches statewide drive to spur e-health adoption by doctors

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK —In the latest attempt to kick-start the health information technology revolution, the Empire State last month launched a drive to help physicians deploy electronic health records and shift to paperless prescribing. The statewide initiative is aimed at boosting EHR adoption by primary care providers. To that end, two regional extension centers, the New York eHealth Collaborative and the NYC Regional Electronic Adoption Center for Health, or NYC REACH, will disburse $48.2 million in federal stimulus funds as incentives to encourage those physicians to shift their practices to digital record-keeping and electronic data interchange of those records.

“Providers now can get help qualifying for federal stimulus funds of up to $63,750, as well as step-by-step technical expertise to implement electronic health records in their practices,” said Karen Riley, a spokeswoman for the two organizations.

“Our goal is to help approximately 10,000 primary care providers in… New York adopt EHRs within two years to enhance patient care and the efficiency of their practices,” said David Whitlinger, executive director of the eHealth Collaborative. “The federal subsidies supporting adoption of EHRs will be available only for a couple of years, so it’s important for primary care providers in New York to act now to take advantage of these programs while there are still funds available.”

To launch the campaign, the eHealth Collaborative and NYC REACH held seminars throughout the state in recent weeks to educate primary care providers on how to qualify for federal stimulus funds and implement EHRs.

“With one of the nation’s largest healthcare systems, New York State is leading the way for the adoption of electronic health records,” said Amanda Parsons, assistant commissioner of the Primary Care Information Project at the New York City Health Department.

Nevertheless, the shift to digital records is still in its relative infancy in New York and elsewhere, and the health system remains a “paper jungle,” Riley noted. Although “electronic health record adoption is picking up rapidly, with an estimated 27% of physicians using some kind of EHR,” she said, “the vast majority of medical records in the U.S. are still on paper, with the average appointment taking 13 pages to document.”

Riley cited a new study from GfK Roper, which estimated that the average U.S. patient’s health is documented on at least 200 pieces of paper in about 19 different locations. “Additionally,” she noted, “American patients have seen an average of 18.7 different doctors during their lives.”

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PHARMACY

Pennsylvania boosts pharmacists’ role; NACDS hails bid for collaboration

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. In a gesture hailed by retail pharmacy advocates, the Keystone State is moving to expand the role its pharmacists play in improving patient health and outcomes.

The move comes with enactment of a Pennsylvania law, H.B. 1041, which will open new opportunities for collaborative medication therapy management between physicians and pharmacists on behalf of patients in a community pharmacy setting. Previously, such team approaches were permitted only in such institutional settings as hospitals and nursing homes in the state. 

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores had high praise for the new law, calling it an “important victory,” and citing the efforts made by the Pennsylvania Association of Chain Drug Stores and the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association toward its passage. “With the enactment of this legislation, Pennsylvania has said ‘yes’ to improving the health and lives of patients, and to reducing overall healthcare costs,” said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. “This new law recognizes the expertise of pharmacists, the accessibility of community pharmacy and the ability of pharmacists to help patients properly manage their health conditions for the well-being of patients and for the good of society.”

Pennsylvania is the 33rd state to allow collaborative drug therapy management in the community setting, according to NACDS research. “Nine states allow it in institutional settings only, and eight do not allow it at all,” noted the group Friday.

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PHARMACY

Taro receives FDA approval for Kytril generic

BY Alaric DeArment

HAWTHORNE, N.Y. Taro Pharmaceutical Industries has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market its generic version of a drug used to prevent nausea and vomiting in patients on chemotherapy, the Israeli generic drug maker said Friday.

The FDA approved Taro’s granisetron hydrochloride tablets in the 1-mg strength. The tablets are a generic version of Roche’s Kytril tablets.

Granisetron tablets had sales of around $15 million in 2009, according to unnamed industry sources cited by Taro.

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