PHARMACY

Integration of PharmaSmart technology improves pharmacist-patient counseling at Astrup Drug, companies say

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Health kiosk maker PharmaSmart International and a drug chain that operates stores in Minnesota and Iowa have integrated PharmaSmart’s technology into the chain’s software system.

PharmaSmart and Astrup Drug said Friday that the integration of PharmaSmart’s interoperable biometric screening technology with Astrup’s Rx30 system allows timely patient interventions, counseling sessions and increases medication therapy management case recruitment for patients with hypertension, ultimately improving outcomes.

"With chronic diseases, such as hypertension, drug therapy is complex, and medication adherence is a major challenge," Astrup COO Tim Gallagher said. "This creates a costly care gap that the pharmacists can help address, if they have the right tools."

Astrup pharmacists see color-coded icons within the patient health record to alert them to the patient’s specific biometric screening status. Icon status is based on average readings, and in the most severe cases, flashing red icons trigger immediate interventions. Ultimately, it initiates a referral to the pharmacist for followup care with the patient when indicated, and pharmacists can access an advanced clinical portal to view the patient’s biometric history.

"This investment helps our pharmacists obtain a higher quality cognitive assessment, which supports the objectives of the patient, the physician and the health plan," Gallagher said. "Unlike traditional health screening kiosks or promotions, PharmaSmart creates a real-time, permanent ‘bridge’ between the health kiosk and our pharmacist."

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National MS Society invests $7 million in research for nerve-repair treatments

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is putting $7 million toward research into ways to speed repair of the nervous system in patients with MS, the organization said Friday.

The society said the money would support 15 new research projects focusing on innovative approaches to repairing the coating of myelin that protects nerve fibers; the coating is destroyed in patients with MS, leading to nerve damage, and finding ways to restore and protect it is a key research priority for the group. The new investments, in commercial and academic research, total $37.8 million.

"The idea of rebuilding the nervous system and protecting it from ongoing MS damage was just a dream a few years ago," National MS Society chief research officer Timothy Coetzee said. "Now, because of efforts by the research community as well as focused investments by the society, we can see a future where people with MS will have treatments that could restore what’s been lost."


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NASP plans new specialty pharmacy practice parameters

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A professional organization for specialty pharmacy plans to develop pharmacy practice parameters in about 20 therapeutic categories focused on disease management.

The National Association of Specialty Pharmacy said Thursday that each disease category has specific requirements allowing for appropriate intake, clinical management, fulfillment and outcomes, and this spectrum of responsible care, based on peer-reviewed and accepted standards, leads to better patient outcomes and appropriate evidence for manufacturers, payers and providers. The group said it expected the healthcare community to incorporate the parameters into patient registries that will be utilized across the country, allowing access to product and payment information as the industry evolves.

"Our goal as an organization is to establish practice parameters that encompass clinical guidelines, existing standards and measures, benefit design, as well as management and information technology to measure adherence and outcomes," NASP CEO Gary Cohen said. "We will collaborate with other stakeholders to utilize existing and emerging guidelines and adapt them to the specific needs of the specialty pharmacy community. Specialty pharmacists are playing a more integral role in the collaborative care model and will be a key driver of successful patient outcomes. It is important that we develop practice parameters through consensus panels with key opinion leaders and subject matter experts."

NASP said it would incorporate information from such organizations as URAQ and the Pharmacy Quality Alliance. The group will also engage various audiences — such as specialty pharmacists, drug makers, specialty pharmacy executives, payers, reimbursement consultants, disease-specific organizations and patient advocacy groups — to complete the project, parameters of which will include information technology, adherence and outcomes metrics.

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