Shared EHR access between docs, pharmacists can improve communication, workflow

Providing pharmacists with access to a physician's electronic health record can improve efficiencies and communication between them, according to a new study in the American Health Information Management Association's Perspectives in Health Information Management.

Much physician-pharmacy interaction for information, such as medication adherence and prescription verification, is handled by fax or telephone, which are both inefficient and distracting. In an effort to improve the flow of information, a supermarket chain pharmacy approached a nearby physician's office to discuss medication therapy management to reinforce the physician's care plans and reduce questions about prescriptions from the pharmacy. 

They originally started a pilot program that entailed the faxing of medication lists to the pharmacy, but found that this did not provide sufficient information for the pharmacists; the relationship was then expanded to allow several pharmacists to read and eventually document in the physicians' EHR.

The parties found that the pharmacists were able to collect more information to do their jobs better, and that communication and the professional relationships between them were enhanced.

Electronic prescribing continues to increase in the United States. Surescripts processed 6.5 billion healthcare data transactions in 2014, despite the fact that the vast majority of prescriptions for controlled substances are still not electronically prescribed.

The study's authors, from the University of Michigan School of Pharmacy and elsewhere, suggested that physician-pharmacy collaboration can also improve targeted medical reviews, immunization management and transition of care services. To improve the chances of success, they recommended open communication between the two provider groups, use of a practice "champion" for the new services, determining short and long term goals, establishing approach health IT access, EHR training and integration of the EHR and medication dispensing system.  

To learn more:
- read the study