Industry players join Blue Button initiative
WASHINGTON — Several retail pharmacy chains and associations are pledging their support of the Blue Button Initiative — a public-private partnership between the healthcare industry and the federal government that aims to empower all Americans with access to their own electronic health information, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy have announced.
The concept behind Blue Button: Consumers should be able to securely access their own health information and share it with healthcare providers, caregivers and others they trust.
In 2010, with the support of the White House, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs launched the Blue Button initiative to give veterans the ability to access and download their health records on a secure, online patient portal. Since then, the initiative has expanded and more than 150 million Americans are able to use Blue Button-enabled tools to access their own health information from a variety of sources including healthcare providers, health insurance companies, medical labs and state health information networks.
Committing to work over the next year toward standardizing patient prescription information to fuel the growth of private-sector applications and services:
- Walgreens, which currently provides its customers with the ability to view and download their prescription history from a Blue Button-branded online portal, plans to adopt BlueButton+ guidelines to make it easier for customers to easily and securely share their data with others, including third-party applications to help people better manage their health and coordinate their healthcare. Walgreens also recently announced a new partnership with the VA which gives veterans convenient, online access to a broader set of personal health data, including immunization records;
- Kroger, which provides approximately half of its customers access to their own pharmacy records through a secure online portal, will be launching a secure portal for the remainder of its stores, many of which operate under local banner names — including Smiths and Fry’s — in addition to developing new functionality that will enable all of its customers to download a copy of their records, and is exploring plans to provide customers with a machine-readable copy of their records that can be shared and uploaded into third-party applications and services;
- CVS Caremark currently provides its customers with the ability to securely access and download their medication lists and prescription history, as well as refill prescriptions through its various online portals, including CVS.com and Caremark.com;
- Rite Aid, through its MyPharmacy online portal, currently provides its customers with electronic access to their own prescription history, tools to better manage their prescriptions and medication management reminders via phone, email or text message. Rite Aid has committed to improving patient engagement and empowerment through expanded access to their own health data and an evolving set of online service capabilities;
- Safeway, one of the newest members of the Blue Button community, is committing to enable its customers to securely access and share their own electronic pharmacy records;
- National Association Chain Drug Stores, which represents traditional drug stores, supermarkets and mass merchants with pharmacies. Chains operate more than 41,000 pharmacies and employ more than 3.8 million employees, including 132,000 pharmacists;
- Pharmacy Health IT Collaborative, which represents nine national pharmacy professional associations representing more than 250,000 members; and
- National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, which promotes leadership, sharing, learning and policy exchange among state pharmacy associations and pharmacy leaders nationwide.
Bi-Lo, Winn-Dixie add medication synchronization service
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Bi-Lo on Thursday announced that all in-store pharmacies now offer “Refill Sync,” a free service that synchronizes customers’ maintenance medication prescriptions so that all scripts — regardless of refill dates — can be filled at the same time.
“We know our customers don’t have time to make multiple trips to the pharmacy each month to pick up their prescriptions,” stated John Fegan, Bi-Lo VP pharmacy. “With Refill Sync, it makes no difference when scripts were originally prescribed, we can synchronize them all.”
Customers must opt into the Refill Sync program. Once enrolled, customers choose the most convenient date for prescriptions to be filled and receive a courtesy call a week before to verify any changes. After the prescriptions have been filled, Bi-Lo pharmacists will call customers to confirm they are ready for pickup. Pharmacists also will provide consultations to customers to discuss any questions, problems or concerns about their health or medication.
This service also is available in all Winn-Dixie pharmacies, which are located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie pharmacies use the same operating system, which allows pharmacists to access a customer’s information at any location.
USHCC welcomes Boehringer Ingelheim as strategic partner
WASHINGTON — The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Thursday welcomed Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals to its family of corporate members as a strategic partner. "Boehringer Ingelheim’s commitment to educating the Hispanic community on the impact of chronic disease is particularly noteworthy," the group noted. "Their dedication to community health was highlighted during last year’s launch of a highly successful initiative, in partnership with Univision, that promoted best practices for preventing and treating diabetes. The company seeks to further advance these efforts through its partnership with the USHCC, working with small business owners to encourage healthy living for the benefit of these small firms and their employees."
"The USHCC is proud to welcome an industry leader like Boehringer Ingelheim into our association. Together, we will implement programs that raise awareness of how chronic diseases like diabetes have a negative effect on the productivity and viability of small businesses, and have a deep impact in the Hispanic community as a whole," stated Javier Palomarez, USHCC president and CEO. "At the USHCC, we understand that to effectively serve the business community, our efforts can’t solely be focused on the bottom line. For a business to thrive, it must have a healthy and productive workforce – BIPI understands this imperative, and that is why our partnership is so valuable," he said. "We are delighted that BIPI is also investing in bringing together American leaders from the political and regulatory sectors with our country’s small business owners at the USHCC Legislative Summit, as well as helping convene the largest gathering of Hispanic business leaders at our National Convention."
"Our association is proud of this new partnership and would like to expand the reach of BIPI’s programs to specifically include the Hispanic business community, so our American entrepreneurs can continue to build businesses that are not only profitable, but most importantly, healthy and sustainable," added USHCC Chairman Emeritus Nina Vaca.