Pharmacists Want to Play a Bigger Part in Patient Care Yet Are Hamstrung by Poor Access to Patient Data

October 08, 2018

Pharmacists don’t just fill prescriptions. They’re a vital part of a patient’s care team. Even so, less than a third of pharmacists say they are satisfied with their ability to access the information they need to manage a patient’s pharmacotherapy.

In partnership with ORC International, Surescripts surveyed pharmacists about access to critical patient data. The results show that pharmacists want and need more clinical and medical history about their patients, but often find it hard or frustrating to obtain.

According to the survey, pharmacists want to move beyond 20th century technology to learn about a patient’s out-of-pocket cost and coverage data. Yet, in order to get information from health plans about a patient’s formulary coverage, two-thirds of respondents said they had to rely on a tool our great-grandparents would find familiar: the telephone. Forty-five percent of pharmacists who lack access to information on formulary coverage say it’s the most critical kind of information to get into the pharmacy computer, second only to those who would prioritize medical history, at 53 percent.

Another key takeaway? Eighty-seven percent of pharmacists say access to a patient’s medication adherence information is a priority. Armed with this sort of actionable intelligence, a pharmacist can have a conversation with a patient about why they’ve had trouble sticking to a medication therapy in the past and perhaps intervene to prevent a reoccurrence. But even though access to medication adherence information is clearly important to them, only 27 percent of pharmacists say it’s easy to find electronically. The alternative is to ask patients about their adherence habits, which 41 percent of pharmacists say is not a safe or reliable strategy. To err is human, but in this case, an errant memory can harm a patient’s health.

Pharmacists also desire access to other patient information, the kind that would help them obtain a fuller, more accurate picture of a patient’s health. Electronic lab results, the ability to securely contact the other healthcare professionals the patient has seen and a view into the patient’s prior medical history are all high priorities, but with correspondingly low access.

To learn more about pharmacists’ information needs, download the report

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