Pharmacy giant Walgreens and pharmacy network operator Surescripts jointly announced the launch of a new interoperability initiative this week that enables Walgreens' pharmacies and retail health clinics to share patient data directly to physicians electronically to improve the coordination of care.
"The idea is to give a patient's primary care physician, who would be the most interested in keeping an accounting, more complete records," Surescripts Rob Cronin told FierceEMR this week.
Having incomplete records is a continual problem for physicians, and is one of many issues that the move to electronic health records and electronic sharing of patient information is meant to alleviate. A recent Surescripts survey revealed that almost 40 percent of physicians were missing immunization records of their patients; more than one-third (36 percent) lacked patient summaries, according to the company.
All 7,800 Walgreens and Duane Reed pharmacies and 350 Take Care Clinics now will be able to use Surescripts' network to deliver immunization data and patient summaries to physicians, such as sore throat testing. Later in the year, the companies will expand the program to send immunization information to public health agencies, as well.
"Most people know Surescripts as a pharmacy network," Cronin said. "When Meaningful Use started to take shape, we realized a lot of other information in EHRs needed to be shared. That's what gave birth to our clinical interoperability network."
Surescripts also operates a similar project with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and is working with several EHR vendors on interoperability, as well.
Cronin pointed out that while the project is designed to share information electronically, physicians will not be precluded from obtaining the information simply because they don't have an EHR. "We'll still get the information to them by fax or regular mail," as well, he said.