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Why Pharmacist-Physician Collaborations Are Key to Quality Care: A Q&A with Shelly Spiro

July 11, 2017

Surescripts 2016 National Progress Report showed that more health data is being exchanged today than ever before, making quality and accuracy even more critical. One important element of data quality is industry collaboration, particularly between pharmacists and physicians.

The pharmacist’s role is evolving. Access to timely and accurate data via a seamless workflow allows them to take their rightful place on the care team, providing patient guidance instead of merely dispensing medications. This expanded care delivery role is due in large part to real-time data-sharing with physicians.

Shelly Spiro is Executive Director of the Pharmacy HIT Collaborative. The two primary focuses of the Pharmacy HIT Collaborative are 1.) “Effective Medication Use: To assure the meaningful use of standardized electronic health records (EHR) that supports safe, efficient, and effective medication use, continuity of care, and provide access to the patient-care services of pharmacists with other members of the interdisciplinary patient care team.” and 2.) “Pharmacist's Role in HIT: To assure the pharmacist’s role of providing patient-care services are integrated into the National HIT interoperable framework.”

Shelly recently shared her perspective on how improved information exchange between pharmacies and physicians promotes better care, patient safety and patient-physician relationships.

Surescripts: Why is two-way information exchange between physicians and pharmacists so important?

Spiro: Improving two-way information exchange between pharmacists and physicians gives the entire care team better medication information, which can improve patient outcomes. Better outcomes and improved patient safety were the primary drivers of e-prescribing adoption over a decade ago. This wasn’t because of regulations. It was a business need and a patient safety requirement—the quality improvement of having the right information at the right time.

Better communication means pharmacists have greater flexibility to improve medication management. Improved information exchange means patient safety can be the priority.

Surescripts: How can tools like CancelRx and RxChange improve the e-prescribing workflow? How do patients benefit?

Spiro: CancelRx means pharmacies receive prescription updates in real time, which helps ensure that patients get a better understanding of which medications they should take. This helps decrease medication errors and reduces the back-and-forth phone calls between prescribers and pharmacies.

RxChange makes it possible for pharmacists to message a prescriber directly with any prescription changes, including formulary changes, order clarification or drug interactions. This improves the e-prescribing workflow by reducing the time pharmacists and prescribers spend getting these updates via phone or fax. Each time a pharmacist or staff member has to go outside of their workflow to talk on the phone or send a fax, it’s an inefficiency that takes away from patient care. Patients also benefit, because a seamless, reliable electronic workflow reduces errors and ensures their medications are ready to pick up at the pharmacy.

Surescripts: How do these improvements impact prescription quality?

Spiro: When a two-way data exchange occurs, prescription quality improves and costs and medication errors decrease. The more we can monitor and correct errors in the data, such as a lack of clarity or incorrect information in an e-prescription’s instruction or direction field, the more we improve the quality of information exchanged. Bringing this visibility to pharmacists is powerful because it improves care and workflow efficiency.

Visit Surescripts 2016 National Progress Report to learn more about how timely, quality data helps prescribers, pharmacists and patients. And for more from Shelly Spiro on how e-prescribing, standards and information exchange are changing how healthcare is delivered, watch the video.

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