PHARMACY

Surescripts’ e-prescribing technology expands to long-term, post-acute care market

BY Antoinette Alexander

ARLINGTON, Va. — Surescripts has expanded its nationwide health information network to include PointClickCare, a cloud-based software platform for the senior care market, to provide the more than 10,000 senior care facilities using PointClickCare access to electronic prescribing technology to fill gaps in care and reduce costs when patients move from one facility to another.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population aged 65 and older is projected to double by 2050. Currently, there are more than 2.5 million beds across skilled nursing and assisted living facilities — a number that will continue to rise dramatically as the population ages.

Exchanging prescription information electronically between prescribers and pharmacies improves accuracy and saves time, from reduced phone calls and faxes related to prescription renewal authorizations, as well as a reduced need for staff to enter prescription data manually. Connecting to the Surescripts network will also help PointClickCare users meet government-mandated transitions of care requirements, while allowing flexibility in choice of pharmacies and reducing the need for direct connections with pharmacies.

“A seamless, connected healthcare experience is an increasing expectation for patients and providers,” stated Tom Skelton, CEO, Surescripts. “Now that e-prescribing is nearly ubiquitous in hospitals and doctor’s offices, we see a huge opportunity to expand connectivity to ensure the long-term and post-acute care market also benefits from healthcare interoperability.”

Today, electronic prescribing is utilized by 95% of pharmacies and 7-out-of-10 office-based physicians. But the long-term care market lags behind the rest of healthcare in terms of technology adoption, with just 3% of prescriptions transmitted electronically. In November 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services lifted its electronic prescribing exemption for long-term care facilities, and now requires that they adhere to the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs SCRIPT standard for electronic prescribing.

Electronic prescribing reduces costs associated with medication non-adherence by helping ensure patients receive needed medication therapies. A 2012 study found that electronic prescribing increases first-fill medication adherence by 10% with the potential to save $140 billion to $240 billion over 10 years. Poor adherence to medication therapy is a significant and costly problem facing the U.S. healthcare system. According to the World Health Organization, 50% of patients do not adhere fully to their medication treatment, leading to 125,000 premature deaths and billions in preventable health care costs each year. Medication non-adherence also results in patient safety issues that cost the healthcare system an estimated $290 billion annually in the form of increased hospitalizations and costly complications, according to the New England Healthcare Institute.
 

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PHARMACY

Walgreens Boots Alliance plans to be a buyer in consolidating market

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. – While Walgreens Boots Alliance may or may not tip its acquisition hand next week in New York at the company's analyst meeting, one thing is for sure – Walgreens Boots Alliance is buying. Follow @DSN_MikeJohnsen  on April 15 using hashtag #WBAfuture for up-to-the-minute live tweets of the all-day event. 
 
Here's what Stefano Pessina, Walgreens executive vice chairman and acting CEO, told analysts today: "I am convinced that the formation of Walgreens Boots Alliance is a unique first which will almost inevitably lead to many other new firsts in our industry," he said. "It may not yet be clear which steps these will be, but we are determined to continue to show the way and be at the forefront of innovating healthcare. … 
 
"[T]his market, the American market, is ready for another round of consolidation. Because the margins are squeezed everywhere; the government is more and more in charge of the costs of the healthcare business and … they will exercise their power to squeeze the cost as much as possible, as we have seen in Europe for decades," Pessina added.
 
"But as I have said before, we want to be, as we have been in the past, at the forefront of changes," Pessina said. 
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Study: Pharmacists’ role on healthcare team expanding

BY Antoinette Alexander

 

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Results released Thursday from the Pharmacy Workforce Center’s 2014 National Pharmacist Workforce Survey indicate that pharmacists are performing more patient care activities in a variety of healthcare settings, and spending less time in the traditional dispensing role.

The 2014 report also reveals that pharmacy has shifted toward a female-dominated profession, with more women than men serving as actively practicing pharmacists and in management positions.

This study is the fourth in a series of surveys conducted by the Midwest Pharmacy Workforce Research Consortium, which has been commissioned by the Pharmacy Workforce Center since 2000. Data was collected from a random sample of 5,200 individuals selected from a list of 7,000 licensed pharmacists in the United States. Response rate to the survey was 48%.


“The National Pharmacist Workforce Survey has once again pinpointed important shifts in the pharmacist workforce and reveals valuable insight about how pharmacists spend their time,” stated Douglas Scheckelhoff, VP of the Office of Practice Advancement at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and president of PWC. “A notable shift identified in the 2014 survey is that more pharmacists are working in patient care roles and providing more patient care services than in any previous survey. Demographic changes are also notable, with a majority of the active pharmacy workforce (57%) now being women, up from 46% just five years ago.”



Over the past decade there has been a dramatic increase in the percentage of pharmacists who are performing healthcare-related services. Sixty percent of pharmacists provided medication therapy management and 53% performed immunizations in 2014, compared with only 13% and 15%, respectively, in 2004.

The percentage of time that full-time pharmacists spent on services associated with medication dispensing decreased from 55% in 2009 to 49% in 2014.

Patients have greater access to pharmacists’ services in a variety of settings than in past years. In 2014, 48% of chain pharmacies and 57% of supermarkets offered health screenings. This is a stark contrast to the percentage of pharmacists who reported offering those services in 2004: only 7% of chain pharmacies and 27% of supermarkets, respectively.

In 2014, more than 25% of hospitals and other patient care settings have collaborative practice agreements in place, thus allowing pharmacists to expand their role as an integral member of the patient’s healthcare team.

The pharmacy profession continues to provide growing opportunities for women. In addition to women now comprising the majority of the active workforce, the proportion of women who served in pharmacy management positions was greater than men for the first time since the workforce surveys began in 2000. In 2014, 55% of managers were female and 45% were male. This compares with 41% female managers in 2009, 41% in 2004 and 37% in 2000.



Women are also taking advantage of career opportunities outside of retail, supermarket and hospital pharmacy. The highest representation of females was in industry and other non-patient care settings, at 66% and 61%, respectively.



When it comes to pharmacists’ careers, two trends emerged from the 2014 survey data. The first is that more than 50% of pharmacists stated that they have a high level of career commitment. In 2014, 66% of pharmacists reported feeling this way, which is a slight increase from 65% in 2004 and significantly greater than 50% reported in 2000. Pharmacists are also spending an average of 7.9 years with their employer according to the 2014 survey, which is only slightly less than the average tenure of a pharmacist in 2009 at 8.2 years.



The second trend supports the idea that pharmacy graduates can expect more career opportunities in the future as the older male pharmacist workforce continues to enter retirement age. Nearly 50% of actively practicing male pharmacists are over 55 years old, thus approaching retirement age and eventually leaving the profession.

 

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