• Mike Coughlin and Other Industry Influencers Discuss Role of Information Technology in Pharmacy

  • By ScriptPro
    August 6, 2015

    According to a recent article in Drug Store News, with input from some of the most knowledgeable influencers in the business, at least one prediction in the healthcare industry, and retail pharmacy in particular, is near certain: information technology will play an increasingly critical role in how all health providers administer care, collaborate with one another in a team-based approach to care, and engage with patients themselves.

    ScriptPro President Mike Coughlin, says the data generated by pharmacy dispensing and information software is a powerful tool when used in collaboration with an integrated and patient-focused system of care. Mike notes,

    “Patient health outcomes and treatment costs depend heavily on access to needed medications and proper medication use,” However, he adds, “Outcomes also depend on making sure all relevant healthcare providers know what the medication use history is for a patient.”

    According to Mike, information technologies are at the heart of these functions, and coordination of information flows — across the spectrum of settings where there is provider/patient/medication interaction — should be an objective of technology providers working in this space.

    The following Drug Store News article drills down on the importance of big data or information technology in helping pharmacies achieve better patient outcomes.

    Pharmacies Harness Big Data to Track, Boost Patient Outcomes

    By Jim Frederick
    Reprinted with permission from Drug Store News, June 15, 2015

    Predicting the future of any industry or profession is always a tricky business, since no crystal ball can account for unexpected breakthroughs in research and development, detours on the road to progress or shifts in population movement or consumer demand. But for the healthcare industry in general and retail pharmacy in particular, at least one prediction is near certain: Information technology will play an increasingly critical role in how all health providers administer care, collaborate with one another in a team-based approach to care, and engage with patients themselves.

    It’s big data in action. Spurred by urgent cost-saving mandates and the revolution in evidence-based medicine and patient empowerment, information technology has become the lynchpin of health reform.

    The generation, sharing and management of ever-more-specific patient data have emerged as central concerns for the entire spectrum of healthcare providers and payers. And community pharmacy, an early adopter of automation with a long history already in the capture and use of information technology, finds itself at the hub of the data management quest. That capability gives pharmacy a seat at the table among the stakeholders that will determine healthcare’s future.

    “The combination of patient accessibility, big data and predictive analytics uniquely positions community pharmacies and their pharmacists to be key players for providing affordable, effective health care to patients,” noted Frank Sheppard, president and CEO of healthcare technology company Ateb. “Ateb’s work with our partner pharmacies to implement automated appointment-based model solutions have demonstrated remarkable and measured improvements in Medicare star measures, transitional care readmissions, immunization rates … and a host of [Health Effectiveness Data and Information Set] scores.”

    “By using the sources of data available, pharmacies can take action to drive healthier outcomes in a very affordable manner,” Sheppard added.

    The data generated by pharmacy dispensing and information software is a powerful tool when used in collaboration with an integrated and patient-focused system of care, added Mike Coughlin, president, CEO and CFO of pharmacy automation provider ScriptPro.

    “Patient health outcomes and treatment costs depend heavily on access to needed medications and proper medication use,” Coughlin told DSN. However, he said, “Outcomes also depend on making sure all relevant healthcare providers know what the medication use history is for a patient.

    “Information technologies are at the heart of these functions,” Coughlin said. “And coordination of information flows — across the spectrum of settings where there is provider/patient/medication interaction — should be an objective of technology providers working in this space.”

    Technology’s role in quest for provider status

    What’s more, the leveraging and integration of patient data and prescription records to create a fully realized, team-based care and disease-prevention plan for patients goes to the heart of the pharmacy profession’s long battle to achieve full-provider status. “Pharmacy automation, both centralized and retail based, will be the empowerment tool to redeploy the pharmacist to patient-facing activities,” asserted Dr. Phil Samples, VP government and professional services for Innovation.

    “The question that pharmacies need to ask is, how are they going to accomplish this?” Samples added. “Without this critical resource, pharmacies will either have to add labor or simply not have an impact on the new emerging roles that the healthcare system has planned for pharmacists.”

    For pharmacists to perform those “patient-facing” clinical and preventive-health roles, they’ll also rely heavily on pharmacy automation to assume a larger share of the traditional dispensing duties that have kept them from engaging more often with patients and practicing “at the top of their license.”

    For their part, health plans and insurers also are fully engaged in the quest to make full use of the data generated by every encounter between patients and their doctors and pharmacists. The goal: improving patient outcomes and, more essentially, preventing or delaying the onset of disease in the first place.

    “We’ve put a lot of resources into prevention and early detection and ongoing maintenance,” said Bernard Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. “We have invested billions in technology.”

    “Does the electronic medical record really make a difference? Absolutely it does, if done correctly and managed correctly,” Tyson said. “We have almost 10 million people on the electronic medical record. And what we’ve done with the quality of care that’s based on the evidence of the outcomes of one treatment vs. another … shows quality going up … and variations in treatment modalities going down.”

    Whatever uses any retailer makes of the flood of information generated by their pharmacy software, “organizations will need to ingest huge amounts of data quickly, reason over it and act on it in real time,” observed Joe Tucci, chairman and CEO of IT solutions provider EMC, at a gathering of information technology executives last year.