The Surescripts Blog

Using Actionable Intelligence to Improve Patient Safety

By Mary Martin, RN, VP, Strategic Alliances, Surescripts

In celebration of Patient Safety Awareness Week, below are highlights from our HIMSS17 panel discussion “Improving Patient Safety with Actionable Intelligence.” Patient safety affects all parts of the health care system. Research suggests that 440,000 patients die each year as a result of preventable medical harm, and many others suffer lasting health consequences.

During our panel, industry practitioners and technology leaders examined how data quality is directly linked to care quality and patient safety. The group agreed that access to detailed, accurate data is crucial to improving patient safety and health outcomes.

“When it comes to medication management, data quality and accuracy are vital,” said Dr. Howard Landa, CMIO for Alameda Health System in California and Vice Chairman of the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS). “Medication management is a hot button issue in medical informatics,” he shared, especially as it relates to the availability of up-to-date medication lists.

“I’ve seen lots of patients come in with two or three prescriptions for the same therapy class, or even the same medication under two different brand names,” said Landa. This can lead to patients taking unnecessary medications, or worse, suffering adverse drug events. Timely, accurate data is a must, he stated, as are key e-prescribing functionalities that ensure quality data is shared between all parties—including patients.

Mandi Bishop, Aloha Health Chief Evangelist and Co-Founder, and Society for Participatory Medicine board member, spoke about the importance of both providers and patients having access to health data to improve patient safety. “When we talk about the role that data plays in patient safety, we should consider the value of giving patients data access to increase their knowledge and decision-making power.” This is especially true as it relates to a patient’s ability to manage his or her prescriptions and care, said Bishop.

Shelly Spiro, executive director of the Pharmacy HIT Collaborative and workgroup leader at the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP), spoke about the need for improved communication and higher quality data. Spiro discussed the benefits of e-prescribing functionalities like RxChange and CancelRx, which give prescribers and pharmacists a way to communicate important prescription changes in real-time. “These functions all help improve communication,” said Spiro.

Surescripts is also helping improve communication through our Critical Performance Improvement (CPI) program. This collaborative brings together vendors, pharmacies, drug compendia and other partners to develop strategies for optimizing e-prescribing industry-wide.

Spiro also touched on the importance of all parties having accurate, comprehensive data about a prescription—such as its intent—to ensure patient safety is in check. She shared an example of a patient who was taking a sleeping medication because of the side effects of an anti-depressant, not because insomnia was otherwise present. Knowing these details and having the data to back them up is an important part of closing communication gaps and improving care.

The Chief Operating Officer for Aprima Medical Software, Inc., Neil Simon, pointed out that his perspective as an EHR representative working with providers is different than that of the other panelists. He said it’s important to remember that providers, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), insurers and patients “all look at the same data very differently.” He noted that in his role, he’s learned a lot about the needs and wants of the various stakeholders. “As an industry, we need to work together across systems to decrease errors,” Simon shared.

View the panel highlights video below; if you’d like to see the full panel, watch it here. Don’t forget to check out our HIMSS17 highlights video, which includes top takeaways from this year’s event. Also, learn more about the Surescripts CPI program, where collaboration and stakeholder input is helping ensure our technology is meeting the complex needs of users and partners nationwide.

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