Engaging pharmacists in health IT key to medication adherence

February 6, 2014

Engaging pharmacists in healthcare information technology is crucial to increasing overall medication adherence in healthcare, panelists on the “Connected Health, Better Adherence” roundtable at the Pew Conference Center in Washington, DC, told attendees last week.

Engaging pharmacists in healthcare information technology is crucial to increasing overall medication adherence in healthcare, panelists on the “Connected Health, Better Adherence” roundtable at the Pew Conference Center in Washington, DC, told attendees last week.

The roundtable was co-hosted by the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation and Prescriptions for a Healthy America.

“As we look at communication between our pharmacists, getting that information to everyone is crucial, whether we are talking about fill history or whether that medication was actually filled. Unless we can truly engage our pharmacist and really engage the patient, you’re not going to get a better measure,” Stephanie Zaremba, JD, senior manager of Government and Regulatory Affairs for athenahealth Inc., told the roundtable.

Zaremba and the other panelists-including Jodi Daniel, JD, MPH, director of the Office of Policy and Planning, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in the Department of Health and Human Services, and Shelly Spiro, RPh, executive director of the Pharmacy Health Information Technology Collaborative-agreed that funding is lacking for medication adherence healthcare information technology.

 “We have pharmacists who are not part of the incentive program. We are looking at incentives and how we can assess the information,” Daniel said. “There are some financial issues in getting that information from the physicians,” Zaremba added.

Streamlined technological communication will also help boost medication adherence, the panelists said. “It is so important that we get into structured documents. We are driving our pharmacists and physicians to use so many codes,” Spiro said. To that end, the Pharmacy Health Information Technology Collaborative has ensured that it has the “proper nomenclature in relation to medication management,” according to Spiro.

Still, all the healthcare information technology measures in the world will not help if the basics of medication management are not taken care of, the panelists said. “If you have a patient who is taking a medication that is not right for them, you have just ruined everything. Making sure they are on the right medication and managed correctly, with the physicians and the patients themselves [is vital],” Spiro said.

“It has to be a done in a team-based approach,” Zaremba said. “We can use systems all we want, but we are not giving our patients the right tools.”

Walgreens’ initiative with 2 accountable care organizations in Florida is a good example of how pharmacists will be more involved with medication adherence in the future. “Walgreens has figured out how to do it, that can really help you get to medication management when the pharmacist is not just a side piece,” Zaremba said.