PHARMACY

Cleansed data enables safer, more efficient care

BY Bobbie Riley

As any healthcare provider knows, medical databases are dirty, dirty places: Not filled with grime or muck, of course, but with duplicate records and inaccurate information. This has become an inevitable part of the prescription journey — and in the healthcare system at large — compromising the integrity of patient data and the care pharmacists provide.

Throughout a patient’s healthcare journey, many clinical and non-clinical staff handle patient information, often through various electronic data systems. This data contains sensitive personal health information, including medical condition status, test results, prescription history, as well as general demographic information. Due to interoperability challenges, the data often cannot be shared digitally in its entirety, or it isn’t shareable in the right format. If a patient’s name isn’t immediately found in the system, the user will create a new record, which leads to duplicate records. Human error can even lead to a treatment recommendation for the wrong patient with a similar name and/or birthdate.

Point of care risks

At the point of care in pharmacy, we feel the impact of all these scenarios and so do our patients. Incomplete or inaccurate data means that the wrong patient could be prescribed the wrong medication with possible life-threatening consequences. Furthermore, if multiple records exist for the same patient, each record is most likely only a small snapshot of a patient’s health status, not an accurate picture of the overall condition.

After receiving a prescription, it’s not uncommon for a busy pharmacy to process it quickly, entering in just the essential information needed to provide the medication. If the prescription was being transferred from another pharmacy, the information provided about medical conditions, over-the-counter medication history, and other elements vital to the patient record may be incomplete and prevent the appropriate interaction checks and alerts from taking place. With nearly four billion prescriptions filled each year, seven errors happen each month, on average, at every U.S. pharmacy with potentially life-altering, even fatal consequences.1
If the records were complete and consolidated, there is a much better chance a pharmacist would note or be alerted to the cases where medication interactions put patients at risk.

Striving for efficiency

The pharmacists and technicians behind the pharmacy counter are constantly being asked to do more in the same amount of time. Every step that requires manual entry and data checking on their part is an opportunity for a misstep or patient misidentification. Most pharmacists do everything they can to ensure the right patients are receiving the right medications and are safe. Unfortunately, accidents do happen; and pharmacies need to do whatever they can set up their employees for success.

Technology that can aggregate and cleanse the data can take much of the manual work off the pharmacy teams. Unburdening them from this administrative responsibility frees them to provide more and better patient care. Pharmacy is certainly a high-touch environment, as patients need time and attention to understand what medications they are being prescribed, why the treatment is recommended, and how they can be adherent. These days, pharmacists are stretched thin and don’t have the time or resources they’d like to have to spend fulfilling this critical, interactive role. Technology should allow pharmacists to maximize their value by returning to the industry’s relationship-based roots.

Trends worth tackling

By implementing referential database technology to clean up the data, pharmacies can proactively streamline the patient identification process for a safer, more efficient provision of care. By assigning every patient a unique identifier, pharmacists can deliver prescriptions with a confidence of clear, clean and concise data. In turn, the correct prescriptions for the correct patients result in safer, better care.

As trends toward value-based care and healthcare consolidation continue to grow, so does the need to secure accurate patient records across the entire healthcare enterprise. As increased scrutiny in pharmacy demands clean, consolidated data, the sheer volume of records is increasing exponentially. Every new or duplicate patient record is an opportunity—for error or for uncertainty. The choice is yours.


Bobbie Rilley is the director of pharmacy for LexisNexis Risk Solutions Health Care

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NACDS’ Anderson highlights National Immunization Awareness Month

BY Sandra Levy

As National Immunization Awareness Month kicks off this August, Steve Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, is emphasizing the achievements over the past decade that have culminated in the expanded role of pharmacists in providing Americans with vaccinations and meeting needs during pandemics.

Pointing out that it was not until 2009 that all 50 states allowed pharmacists to give the flu shot, Anderson said that since 2015, pharmacists are permitted in all states to give at least three vaccines. Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, New York and West Virginia expanded pharmacists authority this year.

Anderson said NACDS’ goal is to secure authority at the state level for community pharmacists to administer all vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Noting that pharmacies have been recognized for their performance during times of need, including the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, Anderson highlighted a study by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security that was funded by NACDS that calls for further strategic changes to government policy that would assure preparedness in future emergencies.

“We are seeing that pharmacists’ increased authorization to give flu shots is associated with boosted vaccination rates. An article published in Clinical Therapeutics describes a study by Avalere and NACDS researchers that found ‘overall, as states moved to allow pharmacists to administer influenza immunizations, the odds that an adult resident received an influenza immunization rose, with the effect increasing over time,’” Anderson said.

NACDS is involved in numerous partnerships to advance immunizations in pharmacies, he said, highlighting the creation of a tip sheet for obstetricians and gynecologists on how to implement an immunization referral system with healthcare stakeholders, including pharmacies. The tip sheet was the result of NACDS’ partnership last month with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Pharmacists Association.

This month, Anderson said NACDS is continuing to join forces with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases to provide emerging vaccination information and education to pharmacists. NFID and NACDS are hosting a series of three webinars in August on the latest guidance from ACIP on current topics, Anderson said.

In addition, NACDS is supporting NFID’s new immunization awareness campaign to address human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted infection.

In September, NACDS and its three CDC Immunization Grant sub-awardees will detail final demonstration project results and findings that relate to ways to effectively integrate pharmacy-based immunization into practice more broadly, Anderson said.

The demonstration projects looked at innovative healthcare collaborations designed to demonstrate increased rates of pharmacy-based immunizations. The grant also focuses on improving pandemic planning among pharmacies.

“In addition to pharmacy’s daily work to increase vaccination rates, and to foster pandemic preparedness, pharmacies also are focusing on access to vaccinations as part of their philanthropic endeavors,” Anderson said.

According to The NACDS 2017 Chain Pharmacy Community Engagement Report, access to affordable vaccines and medicines was among the top-three areas of focus for NACDS chain members in 2017. NACDS chain members reported total annual giving of $650 million, and 1.5 million total volunteer hours, Anderson said.

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GeoVax Labs partners with Emory University to develop HPV vaccine

BY Sandra Levy

GeoVax Labs is joining forces with Emory University to develop a therapeutic vaccine for human papillomavirus infection, with a specific focus on head and neck cancer.

The GeoVax/Emory collaboration will include testing GeoVax’s MVA-VLP-HPV vaccine candidates in therapeutic animal models of HPV in the laboratory of Rafi Ahmed, director of the Emory Vaccine Center.

Ahmed is a world-renowned immunologist whose work in the past 10 years has fostered an understanding of memory T cell differentiation and T and B cell-mediated antiviral immunity.

GeoVax’s vaccine technology is based on its Modified Vaccinia Ankara, or MVA, Virus-Like Particle, or VLP, platform, which generates noninfectious VLPs in the individual being vaccinated.

Gene sequences of target antigens are inserted into the MVA genome, which drives their expression in infected cells. In addition, GeoVax introduces into the viral genome matrix sequences that incorporate antigens into VLPs and simultaneously facilitate their budding from the membranes of infected cells. In this way, vaccination induces two pools of antigens as targets for the immune response – virus-infected cells and released VLPs. This strategy mimics a natural viral infection, triggering the body to produce a robust and durable immune response with involvement of both antibodies and T cells, the company said .

In related immuno-oncology studies in rodent solid tumor models, combination therapy consisting of the GeoVax vaccine designed to target MUC1-secreting tumors plus an anti-PD1 antibody and a protein supplied by ViaMune, successfully arrested progressive growth of the targeted tumors, according to the company.

“We are pleased to begin this collaboration with Emory University to further expand GeoVax’s promising pipeline of preventive and therapeutic vaccines against a variety of infectious diseases and cancers. Our collaboration with Emory on the HPV project is extremely valuable as it was Dr. Ahmed who first discovered in 2006 that the PD-1 pathway could also be exploited by many pathogens to repress normal T-cell function during chronic viral infection, Farshad Guirakhoo, GeoVax’s chief scientific officer, said in a press statement.

“This is an important research area as there are currently no medical treatments for chronic HPV infections, which can lead to the formation of cancerous tumors. We look forward to working with GeoVax on these initial proof-of-concept studies,” Ahmed said in the press statement.

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