The Intersection of Technology and Management
for the pharmacist
www.computertalk.com Volume 33, No. 1 January/February 2013 Staff William A. Lockwood, Jr. Chairman/Publisher
Vice President/Director of Production
Vice President/Senior Editor
Mary R. Gilman
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Building for the Future
rom my vantage point I see more partnerships being formed among the various technology companies. This is good, because it adds value to the pharmacy management system, which is the core system in every community practice, whether independent or chain. I say this because most of the news releases we receive deal with new
partnerships being announced. Many are from companies that are reBill Lockwood cent players in the pharmacy space. This is interesting in itself. It shows
how many niche areas there are where companies can specialize.
This is a healthy trend, as it serves to validate the need to keep innovating. Much of what is being added will help pharmacies become better equipped to participate in accountable-care organizations. While a number of interfaces address the business side of the pharmacy, a number are designed to drive better patient care. The latter strengthens pharmacists’ hand as caregivers. The cover story in this issue takes a look at what’s being done to increase medication adherence. This goes right to the point of caregiver. And again we see how specialized applications, when interfaced with the pharmacy management system, make this happen. There is also an interesting article in this issue on how one pharmacy applied a technology solution to keep prescriptions for hospital employees from going to mail order. But for this to happen, there had to be an interface with the pharmacy management system. It all seems to circle back to interfaces. One of the most important is the interface with robotic dispensing systems. This not only increases productivity, but also increases patient safety. Another interface worth noting is with IVR systems. These systems reduce phone time in the pharmacy and let pharmacists keep their focus when not distracted by ringing phones. These systems also increase operating efficiency, since refills are queued up and ready for filling when the pharmacy opens in the morning, or in the case of an interface with a robotic system, already filled. In a similar vein, at the recent annual conference of the American Society for Automation in Pharmacy (ASAP) attendees were told of a new standard the organization developed. This standard uses a Web service to provide bidirectional connectivity for prescribers and pharmacists directly from the pharmacy management or electronic health record system to a prescription-monitoring program’s database. I mention this because with such direct connectivity, there is no need to step out of the workflow to check on a person suspected of doctor shopping. Facilitating access should increase use of the data residing at the prescription-monitoring program, and with this should come a decline in abuse and diversion of controlled substances. You can read more about the latest ASAP standard in the interview featured in the Industry Watch section of this issue. The developments I see taking place are going to strengthen pharmacy’s position over time as a very relevant player in healthcare delivery. CT Bill Lockwood, chairman/publisher, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.