Pharmacist's Growing Role Depends on HIT

Pharmacy TimesJanuary 2012 Aging Population
Volume 78
Issue 1

In the rapidly changing landscape of health information technology (HIT), Shelly Spiro, RPh, FASCP, is working to make sure pharmacy isn’t left behind. As head of the newly formed Pharmacy e-Health Information Technology Collaborative, Spiro advocates for pharmacists and pharmacies in the spaces where patient care and technology intersect: electronic health records (EHRs).

In a recent Webinar outlining the Collaborative’s priorities for the next 4 years, she spoke about the need for a robust national HIT infrastructure that enables pharmacists to electronically document and share data about the services they provide. She said that ability is critical to demonstrate the value of services like medication therapy management to payers, providers, and policy makers.

The future of pharmacy depends on it, according to Spiro. She expects measurable outcomes to become more important for pharmacies as health care shifts from a fee-for-service to a pay-for-performance model of reimbursement. “I’m a firm believer in the use of HIT and the meaningful use of EHRs to document our patient encounters,” she said. “By documenting them in a consistent way, we’ll be able to show the value of pharmacists and their role in the care of the patient to improve the quality of medication use.”

For the Record

Spiro called pharmacist-provided flu vaccines a “perfect example” of how EHRs should work—and how the current systems fall short of the Collaborative’s goals for pharmacy and HIT integration.

“I actually get my flu shot at a community pharmacy, and I happen to be part of a managed care organization that uses an electronic health record,” she explained. “My community pharmacy isn’t part of the provider network. When I received my flu shot, I noticed that it wasn’t in my electronic health record.” Even after telling her physician the date that she received the flu shot, Spiro has yet to see it recorded in her EHR.

“This demonstrates the fundamental problem we have in making sure that we can communicate all information in all practice settings,” she said.

Using EHRs to exchange information about pharmacist-provided immunizations is 1 of 10 goals identified in the Collaborative’s new white paper, The Roadmap for Pharmacy Health Information Technology Integration in U.S. Health Care. Jointly developed by the Collaborative’s 9 founding pharmacy associations, the guide is intended to reach providers, lawmakers, vendors, payers, and other HIT influencers.

“The Roadmap is a comprehensive document encompassing pharmacists’ meaningful use of EHRs in all practice settings,” said Spiro. “Adoption of EHRs by pharmacists will help optimize safe and effective medication use for our patients by facilitating access to electronic medication related information within the health care interdisciplinary team.”

The complete white paper is available at

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