PHARMACY

Walgreens partners with UCSF Medical Center and School of Pharmacy on cutting-edge pharmacy

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO — UC-San Francisco and Walgreens on Tuesday opened a Walgreens store on the UCSF campus that aims to improve medication safety, decrease healthcare costs and help patients use medicines more effectively by offering pharmacist-based patient care and expanded health-and-wellness services to the community. A joint effort among Walgreens, the UCSF School of Pharmacy and UCSF Medical Center, “Walgreens at UCSF” also will explore new models for improving overall patient care.

“’Walgreens at UCSF’ is an ideal environment for our pharmacists to work with UCSF Medical Center and School of Pharmacy faculty to further innovate in health care while providing greater access to services for the surrounding community,” said Joel Wright, Walgreens divisional VP specialty solutions group. “At Walgreens, we are very pleased to share and develop best practices with UCSF pharmacists and pharmacy students, which further our commitment to help people get, stay and live well.” 

“Modern medicine has transformed many diseases from urgent, life-threatening conditions into chronic illnesses that can be managed with the right medications, but that means more and more patients are juggling multiple prescriptions with complex instructions,” said Joseph Guglielmo, dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy. “And, in many instances, this complicated medication list is inaccurate and incomplete. This collaboration aims to transform the practice of community pharmacies to enable pharmacists to do what they’re trained to do, which is help patients manage their health with the right medications and understand how to take them correctly.”

The collaboration builds upon Walgreens’ leadership in pioneering new approaches to pharmacy care, as well as UCSF’s long history of collaboration in teaching, research and patient care between the School of Pharmacy and UCSF Medical Center, which together piloted the first hospital-based clinical pharmacy program in the nation, in the 1960s.

The project comes at a time when an estimated 82% of Americans use daily medications to manage their health and 29% take five or more medications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet the National Consumers League reports that three of every four Americans say they do not always take their medications as directed, and an estimated one-third of all patients do not fill their prescriptions. The result is a high rate of both medication errors and readmissions to hospitals for patients whose illnesses could have been managed at home. 

“Every time a patient is readmitted to the hospital because they did not take their medications, it has a direct impact on both their health and their healthcare costs,” said Daniel Wandres, chief pharmacy officer of UCSF Medical Center. “By creating this three-way collaboration, we hope to create a national model for eliminating medication-related readmissions and reducing medication errors nationwide.”

The new pharmacy model also comes on the heels of the California provider status law based on Senate Bill 493, which took effect Jan. 1, 2014, expanding the role of pharmacists on the patient care team. Under the new bill, pharmacists can perform additional healthcare responsibilities within the realm of their expertise, such as furnishing certain medicines, monitoring patient health and adjusting prescriptions, as needed. 

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Healtheway forms industry coalition to standardize health information exchange

BY Michael Johnsen

ORLANDO, Fla. — Healtheway on Monday announced the formation of Carequality, a new initiative dedicated to accelerating progress in health data exchange among multiplatform networks, healthcare providers, electronic health record vendors and health information exchange vendors. Carequality is an open, transparent and inclusive industry-driven effort. It will convene stakeholders and facilitate industry consensus to develop and maintain a standards-based interoperability framework that enables information exchange between and among networks.

As physicians and hospitals become more accountable for the care they provide, information needs to flow freely and securely as patients move between different care providers. While substantial progress has been made to advance this type of connectivity, existing initiatives and networks generally work independent of one another, resulting in silos of connectivity, Healtheway noted. Carequality will bring together these existing initiatives and networks and provide a standardized framework for working together.

Carequality’s goal is to facilitate agreement on a common, national-level set of requirements that will enable providers to access patient data from other groups as easily and securely as today’s bank customers connect to disparate banks and user accounts on the ATM network. Once achieved, this level of health data interoperability will represent a quantum leap in the quality of health care available and reduce the cost to support interoperability.

“The new frontier in achieving nationwide, secure health data exchange involves building upon all of the existing great work across various consortia and networks, and tying it all together into a unified approach for the industry,” said Mariann Yeager, Healtheway’s executive director. “A group of organizations — including many of those most active today in achieving nationwide interoperability — approached Healtheway about serving as the neutral convener for industry stakeholders to come together," she said. "Together they will work through implementation-level issues to enable exchange between and among networks. Today, we are presenting a call for action to participate in Carequality and join this effort.”

A rapidly growing community of healthcare providers, payers, consumer groups, IT companies and software vendors are signing up to join this effort and shape the future of interoperability in the United States.

Carequality is just beginning its activities and is open to all stakeholders who wish to participate. Healtheway is issuing a call for all interested parties to join the effort and engage in Carequality.

The group’s work will be available to all industry stakeholders, regardless of membership so that any provider group, EHR vendor or exchange network can see how Carequality participants are accelerating exchange connections by using a single, non-proprietary interoperability framework.

To date, nearly two-dozen organizations have pledged to join Carequality, Healtheway noted, including:

  • California Association of Health Information Exchanges;
  • CareEvolution;
  • Community Health Information Collaborative;
  • CVS MinuteClinic;
  • eClinicalWorks;
  • Epic;
  • Greenway Health;
  • HIElix;
  • Hyland Software;
  • ICA;
  • Intermountain Healthcare;
  • InterSystems;
  • Kaiser Permanente;
  • lifeIMAGE;
  • MDI Achieve;
  • Medfusion;
  • Medicity;
  • MedVirginia;
  • Mirth;
  • Netsmart;
  • New York eHealth Collaborative;
  • Optum;
  • Orion Health;
  • Santa Cruz Health Information Exchange;
  • Surescripts; and
  • Walgreens. 

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National Governor’s Association focuses on prescription drug abuse

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — As part of the National Governors Association’s ongoing effort to help states reduce prescription drug abuse, findings from the Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction Policy Academy were the focus of the Health and Human Services Committee session at NGA’s 2014 Winter Meeting, the association announced Sunday. 

NGA vice chair Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley have led the Prescription Drug Abuse Project since September 2012. Throughout the yearlong initiative, seven states — including Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia — have worked to develop coordinated plans to combat prescription drug abuse.

During the Winter Meeting session, “Battling an Epidemic: State Efforts to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse,” governors released an issue brief detailing lessons learned from the policy academy. 

Findings from "Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse: Lessons Learned from an NGA Policy Academy" included:

  • Leadership matters;
  • Prescribing behavior needs to change;
  • Disposal options should be convenient and cost-effective;
  • Prescription drug monitoring programs are underused;
  • Public education is critical;
  • Treatment is essential; and
  • Data, metrics and evaluation must drive policy and practice.

“The abuse of prescription drugs continues to be seen in communities across the nation,” Hickenlooper stated. “This initiative helped states develop effective strategies to help decrease the number of individuals who are misusing or abusing prescription drugs and the resulting number of people who are harmed or die.”

“When discussing efforts to fight this problem, we must remember to differentiate between those who are abusing prescription drugs and those who legitimately need these medications,” Gov. Bentley noted. 

“HDMA applauds the NGA for addressing our nation’s ongoing prescription drug abuse epidemic by convening a variety of stakeholders — including HDMA — to participate in its Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction Policy Academy," said John Gray, president and CEO of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association. "We …  agree that policymakers will need to be mindful of potential unintended consequences that may occur from adopting certain solutions, which may hamper legitimate patient access to medicines. HDMA and the nation’s primary healthcare distributors look forward to working with the NGA and others as it continues this initiative, as we work together to eradicate prescription drug abuse in the United States.”

Because this issue remains a top priority for governors, NGA announced a second round of the initiative to be led by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin.

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