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NCPA ‘road map’ fosters HIT adoption

BY DSN STAFF

ALEXANDRIA, Va. —In a new bid to help independent pharmacy owners join the health information technology revolution, the National Community Pharmacists Association has issued a report called “Health Information Technology and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: A Road Map for Community Pharmacy.”

The report, issued Oct. 8, is an updated version of what was created in advance of the two-day, NCPA-hosted conference in June with other healthcare industry stakeholders called Connecting Community Pharmacy to the Interoperable Health Information Technology Highway. The new version, noted NCPA, “reflects the…consensus that emerged as a result of the conference.”

Driving the initiative was the massive economic stimulus package known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included funding to spur adoption of HIT and a national, interoperable healthcare system by 2014.

“ARRA allocates a total of $19 billion to implement health information technology regional exchange networks,” noted the NCPA report. “Of this amount, $17 billion is for incentive payments to physicians and hospitals that implement a meaningful and useful system of EHRs beginning in 2011 with completion by 2014.” Those incentive payments are “directed at Medicare- and Medicaid-certified physicians and hospitals,” the report added, but “the remaining $2 billion is allocated to immediately begin developing and improving the nation’s HIT infrastructure.”

In turn, the stimulus plan “encourages creation of personal health records, developed and owned by individuals in conjunction with healthcare professionals, and portable to all healthcare settings,” NCPA’s report continued. The ambitious goal of this plan, it added, is to create a PHR for all Americans by 2014.

“This scenario creates excitement among many individuals and advocates who believe that an electronic records system creates more efficiency and lowers healthcare costs,” the NCPA reported. “However, such a system presents risks and challenges” in such areas as identity theft and privacy protection, the report warned.

The fast-growing emergence of HIT and the need for systems that protect patient privacy lend urgency to the need for pharmacy retailers to prepare now, according to the independent pharmacy group. “Community pharmacists should begin preparing for a comprehensive electronic healthcare environment immediately,” the report urged. And, “while pharmacies are ahead of most other healthcare professions in computerization for billing and reimbursement, most systems are proprietary and not focused on emerging clinical roles, documentation and interoperability within a larger healthcare environment.”

For instance, noted the NCPA, “few community pharmacy computer systems are networked into the electronic medical record systems of the physician practices with whom they collaborate,” in part because those systems may not be designed “to share important clinical information for medication therapy management services. As such, it is imperative that pharmacists start preparing now to connect to the nation’s emerging HIT infrastructure,” noted the report’s authors.

Among the report’s recommendations: that pharmacies take ownership of the medication management and use process within the HIT revolution, and that pharmacy operators play “an instrumental role in helping create the necessary interoperability standards for the nation’s HIT infrastructure.” NCPA also urged its members to participate in national, regional and state health information exchanges.

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Hy-Vee celebrates the other white meat

BY Alaric DeArment

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa A lot of people complain about pork barrel spending, but not Midwest supermarket chain Hy-Vee.

October is National Pork Month, and the West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee announced Friday that sales of the meat have increased more than 25% over October 2008. The chain said it was on track to increase pork tonnage by more than 30%.

 

“With pork prices the lowest they’ve been in more than a decade, we’ve focused our marketing efforts on promoting pork as a great value for consumers,” Hy-Vee assistant VP meat operations Kenan Judge said in a statement. “Today’s shopper is looking for nutritious, economical meal ideas, and pork perfectly fits the bill.”

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Patients prefer new diabetes drug Victoza over its competitor, survey finds

BY Alaric DeArment

MONTREAL A new diabetes drug satisfied patients more than its competitor, according to a study funded by the drug’s manufacturer.

According to data on 379 patients who took the Diabetes Treatment Satisfaction Questionnaires, presented Thursday at the 20th World Diabetes Congress and published in medical journal The Lancet, patients taking Novo Nordisk’s drug Victoza (liraglutide) perceived less abnormally low or high blood sugar levels — known respectively as hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia — than those taking Byetta (exenatide), made by Eli Lilly & Co., Amylin Corp. and Alkermes.

Victoza is approved in Europe, but Novo Nordisk is still waiting for approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.

“Liraglutide has shown here in a convincing study that it is associated with less nausea, less perceived hypoglycemia and definitely higher patient satisfaction compared to exenatide,” principal investigator Wolfgang Schmidt said in a statement. “Patient-reported outcomes data is an important extension of the efficacy data. If a patient is satisfied with his or her treatment, then they are much more likely to really stick to the treatment over the long term, which is necessary in Type 2 diabetes.”

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