HealthFebruary 20, 2018

In the news: How feasible Is a nationwide pharmacy database?

When looking at the problems plaguing American healthcare and the potential contributions of pharmacists to help improve patient outcomes, experts often repeat the same refrains: encourage better patient medication adherence; offer a more holistic, value-based approach to treatment; and of course, find effective ways to combat the opioid epidemic and its associated frauds and abuses.

In a recent commentary, “Pharmacy data-sharing will enable future of value-based care provision,” Drug Store News examines how all of these needs and more could be addressed with wider-spread pharmacy data-sharing and interoperability and speculates on what could be achieved if pharmacists could access a nationwide repository of patient data in the same way auto insurance industry reports and has access to all accident and claims data on cars and drivers.

Medication history, the article argues, is the weakest link in the patient health history, as it is most often self-reported. Retail pharmacists are the “missing link,” not having the ability to contribute to a health system’s record. A “contributory, linking database” that would allow pharmacists to contribute, access, and share patient information with other providers would, the authors argue, eliminate some of these communication gaps, leading to improvements in patient safety

Sharing technology does present challenges — for example, privacy. Patients would need to be identified safely and appropriately. Such a database also would need to be integrated seamlessly into pharmacy workflow so that it would actually be used.

The article also touches briefly on the possibility of retail organizations being hesitant to share business data with competitors, without exploring the issue’s implications.

Whatever challenges or obstacles creation of a data-sharing initiative may face, it seems to be the opinion of many industry leaders that pharmacy needs wider access to patient data in order to better impact outcomes and care value.

Read the full Drug Store News article.

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