Publisher’s Window: November/December 2013

<!–– Notable Events in 2013 ––>

A few events from this year stand out. One is the federal government’s health exchange website, How the government failed to launch a website that worked is beyond me. Problem appears to be that there were too many cooks in the kitchen, as the saying goes. According to a BusinessWeek article (Nov. 10) the site “involved no fewer than 55 contractors.” With this many players it was a recipe for failure. No one was in charge. Specs kept changing. The interface became too complicated.

If you recall, when Medicare Part D was launched this too was a disaster. I remember predicting that it wasn’t ready for launch. Pharmacy was on the receiving end of that debacle. Fortunately, this time around pharmacy isn’t affected. But once the Affordable Care Act gains traction, it is certain to increase the number of prescriptions filled in pharmacies.

I find that the legislation coming out of Washington to solve a problem often creates problems. Another case in point is payment to pharmacies for manufacturer- sponsored refill reminder programs. The bottom line is that pharmacies cannot make a profit from these programs. The government expects pharmacy to subsidize these programs, when there is plenty of evidence that these programs benefit the patient and reduce the cost of healthcare.

Something else that 2013 will be remembered for is the new vial label standard developed by USP called a patient-centered label. It raises the bar in the look and content of the prescription label. This standard spells out the order in which information should be displayed, the font point size and the amount of white space used, the language for directions on use, and use of auxiliary warning labels. It is up to state boards of pharmacies to decide whether the standard should be required.

If you want to keep up with new technology developments in pharmacy, the American Society for Automation in Pharmacy’s two conferences each year are a good way to do this. The upcoming January conference program will feature speakers on the new pharmacy electronic health record, medication therapy management data exchange, an update on privacy and security, and a host of other timely topics. You can see the program in full by going to Not only are these meetings informative, they are held at nice venues.

As we close out another year, this issue’s cover story takes a look at what lies ahead in 2014, based on our annual survey with the technology vendors. I think you are going to like what you hear. CT

Bill Lockwood, chairman/publisher, can be reached at