Pharmacy Interoperability and Pharmacy Perspectives Coming Out of the ONC Annual Meeting

January 9, 2024

Pharmacy Interoperability and Pharmacy Perspectives Coming Out of the ONC Annual Meeting

By John Lynn

It never ceases to amaze me how integral the role of the pharmacist could be to a patient and how many pharmacists are relegated to counting pills and checking insurance.  I first experienced this in my first healthcare job which included handling IT support for the pharmacy.  Yes, the pharmacist has to make sure the prescription is filled properly and the patient gets the right number of pills.  However, I quickly learned that pharmacists can be some of the best sources of medical information for me as a patient.  Not to mention, they generally more accessible to talk about the medication and how it works than the doctor.  Two decades later, I still remember the medication lessons my pharmacist colleagues taught me.  Patient education is just one example of many where pharmacists could take a more active role in the healthcare system and we could all benefit from pharmacists’ expertise.

Another area where we haven’t enabled pharmacists has to do with pharmacy interoperability.  While almost every pharmacy out there now supports ePrescribing, the healthcare industry has fallen short when it comes to ensuring that pharmacists have full access to all of the prescriptions that have been filled for a patient.  This puts patients into the untenable position of filling all their prescriptions at one location which can mean paying more for the same prescriptions or patients filling their prescriptions at multiple locations and the pharmacist doesn’t know about all the prescriptions a patient has filled.

This was one of the many important topics I discussed with Cam Deemer, CEO at DrFirst, and Pooja Babbrah, Practice Lead, Pharmacy & PBM Services at Point of Care Partners, in a recent interview with Healthcare IT Today.  In our discussion, we talk about early approaches to ePrescribing and how those efforts have led us to where we are at today including pharmacy interoperability (or lack thereof).  Babbrah and Deemer have been on the front lines of these efforts and share important perspectives on what is changing now that has them hopeful for the future of ePrescribing and pharmacy interoperability.

Babbrah had also just attended the ONC Annual meeting and shares with us how ONC’s interoperability and efforts to stop information blocking are going to impact medication sharing.  She pointed out that ONC choosing to include a session on pharmacy interoperability and the fact that it was well attended were good steps forward in recognizing the importance of sharing medication data including with the pharmacy.

I also ask Deemer and Babbrah to share their thoughts on the future of consumer engagement and what they see on the horizon when it comes to demands from patients.  They both acknowledged that patients are taking a more proactive role in their care.  This presents a great opportunity for pharmacists to be more engaged with patients.

Finally, I asked Babbrah and Deemer to reflect on the current regulatory environment and share what we can expect going forward and next steps they think we should take.  Check out our interview below to learn more about important topics like pharmacy interoperability, the currently regulatory environment, and how the role of the pharmacist is changing in healthcare.

Check out the article on Healthcare IT Today.