The Internet and Connectivity
| Print |
I recently participated in the planning session for the NCPA technology track for the organization’s annual convention coming up in October. During the session, a small committee spends a day and a half going over what should be put in the mix to help pharmacists learn more about the technology that can make a difference in their pharmacies. I have been a long-standing member of this annual planning process. What impresses me is how aggressive pharmacists have become in using the Internet for so many different areas, from personal to business. The Internet provides a way to stay connected, and I see it taking on an increasing presence in pharmacy as we move into a more patient-centric healthcare environment. Creative pharmacists are going to be looking for ways to employ this powerful resource to provide more connectivity with the consumer to do a variety of things that can improve outcomes. It is going to change pharmacy’s role from the somewhat static one of dispensing medications to that of staying connected with the consumer of these medications after leaving the pharmacy.
In reading the company profiles that are the focus of this issue of ComputerTalk, I found it interesting how many times the Internet is mentioned, one way or another. We have pharmacy software that is now being delivered through software-as-a-service, using the Internet. Third-party claims travel the Internet. We have an increasing number of prescriptions being delivered to the pharmacy electronically.
In a similar vein, we are also hearing more about personal health records (PHRs) and electronic health records (EHRs). We now have Google Health and Microsoft’s HealthVault as digital repositories of personal health information. I suggest you read the Catalyst Corner column in this issue to get the latest on where we are headed with the government’s health information technology initiative. The emphasis is on interoperability allowing various system platforms to seamlessly integrate and make health information more readily available to the providers of care. However, there are so many moving parts that it’s anyone’s guess when all of this will become a reality. But there is certainly interest in making this happen.
In the last issue, I mentioned the Call Letter that was published by CMS on its proposed requirements for Part D plan sponsors next year. As I pointed out, the letter was recalled in order for the new administration to review it. I thought I would let you know that it has since been reissued and includes the same MTM criteria as outlined in the original letter, which should present more MTM opportunities for community pharmacists with Part D beneficiaries. That’s good news for pharmacy if it sticks.
As you read the profiles featured in this issue, I think you will be impressed with the functionality that’s been added to the various offerings. POS systems are now promoting the availability of the software to handle FSA debit cards. IVR systems have become far more robust, offering more bang for the buck. Workflow systems and automated dispensing systems continue to be tweaked to further improve pharmacist and technician productivity. Document scanning and electronic signature capture add additional ways of improving throughput while providing electronic storage and retrieval for the record-keeping responsibilities in the pharmacy. It just amazes me how far we have come with computer technology in pharmacy. I can appreciate this, since I have been tracking this market for 29 years.
That said, I trust you will once again find this Buyers Guide issue a valuable resource for deciding where you want to go next with technology in your pharmacy. CT
Bill Lockwood, Chairman/Publisher