MinuteClinic and Cleveland Clinic enter in to clinical collaboration
The announcement that MinuteClinic and Cleveland Clinic have entered a clinical collaboration is a major example of how providers are communicating electronically to advance patient care, aside from e-prescribing.
While most of the retail-based clinic operators, such as MinuteClinic and Take Care Health Systems, have long used electronic health records to share patient information and ensure continuity of care, this streamlining of systems takes that communication yet one step higher.
In fact, it should be noted that, under Convenient Care Association’s ten Quality and Safety Standards established in 2007, CCA members must use electronic health records to ensure efficient care, and CCA members must be committed to providing all patients with the opportunity to share health information with other providers electronically or in paper format.
However, this collaboration between Cleveland Clinic and MinuteClinic should not be understated. By having their systems streamlined, each Cleveland Clinic-affiliated MinuteClinic will have access (with the patient’s consent, of course) to patient’s medical history, prescriptions, treatments and health maintenance information. This will obviously be a major advantage for nurse practitioners working within these MinuteClinic locations. And MinuteClinic will be able to share, with consent, its patient information with other Cleveland Clinic-affiliated locations in the northeast Ohio via the MinuteClinic EMR.
Pharmacy groups appeal for stake as Congress, president mull health reform
WASHINGTON In an urgent bid to raise the profile of community pharmacy amid an ongoing debate in Congress and within the Obama Administration about the future of health care, a coalition of pharmacy groups today unveiled a broad set of principles to more firmly establish the role pharmacists can play in the new, electronic era of health care in the U.S.
Leaders of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the American Pharmacists Association and other groups made their case for pharmacy at a meeting of the National Press Club this morning. They laid out a set of “Pharmacy Principles for Health Care Reform,” aimed at demonstrating how “pharmacies and pharmacists can play a critical role in providing accessible, affordable and quality health care for patients.”
With Congress and the White House mulling massive changes to the healthcare system and the transformation of that system through electronic recordkeeping and health information technology, or HIT, the stakes for pharmacy are high. Today’s press event marked an urgent effort by retail pharmacy to get out in front of those changes.
The presentation also included nine other pharmacy and retail organizations including the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American College of Clinical Pharmacy, American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Food Marketing Institute, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, Rite Aid Corp. and Walgreens. The coalition laid out three goals related to medication access and use – goals they assert should be an integral part of any health reform debate. Among them:
Improving the quality and safety of medication use;
Assuring patient access to needed medications and pharmacy services;
Promoting pharmacy and HIT interoperability, so that all health providers, including pharmacies, are linked via electronic data and decision-making platforms to improve patient care.
Organization leaders elaborated on those goals at today’s event. “Those of us who are part of this coalition call on Congress and the Obama Administration to consider this very important reform principle: to promote pharmacy and health information technology interoperability,” NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson told reporters. “In short, the promise of HIT will not be realized if electronic silos replace paper silos, and unless we … commit financial resources. We need to make sure that financial resources will not be wasted if we have systems that don’t talk to each other or provide the right kind of information.”
Getting healthcare reform right, said Anderson, means:
Pharmacists should have electronic access to patient health information, such as diagnosis and laboratory values. “This information must be shared among health care providers through an interoperable electronic health information system,” Anderson noted.
Federal and state grants to health care providers should support the growth of interoperable health care systems.
Guidelines should be established to protect patient information while assuring that these protections also allow information flow among health care providers to enhance treatment decisions.
“Pharmacies and pharmacists are committed to protecting patient information, and to saving lives and improving lives,” said Anderson. “Their views on how to accomplish these objectives…are worth serious consideration by our policymakers.”
Added the American Pharmacists Association’s EVP and CEO Designate, Thomas Menighan, “Improved health care lies with empowered individuals in charge of their health. Any new system must ensure quality and safety by providing patients with the tools and support needed to self-manage their care. MTM services provided by pharmacists are an essential part of that reform.”
Noting that 95% of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a community pharmacy, NCPA EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts called on policymakers to view pharmacy “as part of the solution to the healthcare cost crisis, not part of the problem.
“We are among the most successful health care providers, especially in rural and urban areas where many people rely on the pharmacist as their primary healthcare provider,” Roberts asserted. “Pharmacists are also providers of other vital care products and services, such as vaccinations, durable medical equipment, diabetes test supplies. Many pharmacies have become wellness centers for their communities, and some pharmacists specialize in helping treat chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity.”
For these reasons, said NCPA’s top executive, “Our coalition intends to promote policies, as part of healthcare reform, that will assure that the infrastructure that provides these products and services to millions of Americans remains strong and viable.
“Continued community-based access to these products and services is critical, especially for the increasing numbers of older Americans that our health care system will be serving,” Roberts said. “As the baby boomers advance in age and become increasingly reliant on medications and adherence to medication therapy, and as prescription drugs continue as the solution to many health care problems, we as an industry must do everything in our power to assure that the access remains intact.
“We’re relying on the federal government to help us in this charge,” he added.
Hannaford ending the discount program for customers who bring shopping bags
NEW YORK Customers at Hannaford Bros. who bring their own shopping bags will no longer get a discount on their groceries, according to published reports.
The New England supermarket chain will end a program that it started in the early 1990s whereby customers who bring reusable bags get 5 cents taken off their purchase for each bag.
The Times Union of Albany, N.Y., quoted a Hannaford spokesman as saying that the program offered a modest reward for the effort.
Several supermarket chains around the country have similar programs in effect.