PHARMACY

White House report on health IT, innovation hailed by e-prescribing pioneer Surescripts

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va., and ST. PAUL, Minn. A White House report encouraging the healthcare system’s transformation to health information technology drew a strong endorsement Tuesday from the nation’s largest electronic prescription network.

The report, titled “The Recovery Act: Transforming the American Economy Through Innovation,” marked the ongoing overhaul of such industries as health care through information technology. Vice President Joe Biden announced some of the report’s findings at a White House gathering of industry leaders in technology and other fields.

Among the guests at that gathering was Harry Totonis, president and CEO of e-prescribing platform provider Surescripts. Totonis, whose company was founded in 2001 by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association to usher in the digital communications revolution in doctor-prescribed medicines, hailed the Obama Administration’s effort to draw attention to the benefits of e-prescribing and the sharing of medication information.

Those benefits, Totonis said, are “saving lives, time and money, and improving the quality of care.”

Drawing from the report Tuesday, Biden cited the progress of federal and private-sector partnerships with industries including health care, transportation and energy. In a section labeled “Building a Platform for Private Sector Innovation,” the report detailed significant progress with HIT and e-prescribing.

“There is no greater example of what investing in innovation can do for America than health information technology and, more specifically, e-prescribing,” Totonis said. “By providing extensive support for standards testing and adoption and by offering a mix of incentives … the government has played a leading role in encouraging the adoption of e-prescribing. This, along with the collaboration between Surescripts and the nation’s pharmacies, payers, physicians and technology vendors has produced significant results,” Totonis added.

To wit, Totonis said, “In the last 18 months, e-prescribing has grown from 12% to 32% of all office-based prescribers in the United States, and from 76% to 90% of retail pharmacies.”

However, cautioned Surescripts’ top manager, “e-prescribing and medications are just one component of an overall electronic health record. More innovation is required. We must develop a more efficient, secure and reliable means of sharing a broader set of valued health information for continued, meaningful improvements in care.”

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PHARMACY

Pharmacy Technician Certification Board touts role in immunizations

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON The main organization that certifies pharmacy technicians is touting its role in immunizations as the flu season approaches.

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board noted that last year, Walgreens immunized more than 7.4 million patients against the H1N1 pandemic flu and seasonal influenza with the support of pharmacy techs the organization had certified. Walgreens requires its more than 380,000 pharmacy techs to receive certification from the PTCB.

“We believe PTCB [certified pharmacy technicians] enhance the pharmacy team, resulting in higher quality care for patients,” PTCB CEO and executive director Melissa Murer Corrigan said in a statement. “We applaud the influenza campaign efforts of Walgreens and its pharmacist immunizers and appreciate the way they have effectively utilized the skill sets of CPhTs across the country to better connect with the communities and patients they serve.”

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Bartell to mark 120th anniversary with new store

BY Alaric DeArment

SEATTLE Regional retail pharmacy chain Bartell Drugs will open its 59th store next month, the company said Tuesday.

Bartell announced that the 15,000-sq.-ft. store would open Sept. 13 at Factoria Village in Bellevue, Wash., a city near Seattle. In addition to traditional pharmacy services and products, the store will include clinical care services and an international travel clinic. It also will be the first Bartell store to use solar energy to supplement conventional power sources, with panels on the roof and the face of the building.

Aribbon-cutting ceremony will take place Sept. 14 to mark the chain’s 120th anniversary. Family-owned Bartell Drugs is the oldest operating retail pharmacy chain in the United States.

“We have searched for several years for the right location in the Factoria neighborhood,” chairman and CEO George Bartell stated. “I am pleased that we will at least have a store there to serve the needs of those that asked for us.”

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