The notion of a national electronic health record for Canadians may seem like a pipe dream, but speakers at the 2012 CFP Pharmacy Forum provided some compelling examples of current projects that are well underway in anticipation of the inevitable transformation of health care via technology.
Bonnie Cochrane, vice-president Clinical Information Programs & Quality at the Newfoundland & Labrador Centre for Health Information, noted that her province is on the “bleeding edge” of this transformation having been among the first to have an electronic client registry in place. “We have been a great test bed so that [vendors] can be more ready for other jurisdictions when the time comes,” she said.
Among the lessons learned so far, she stated the need to consider the profession and business of pharmacy when implementing a pharmacy network, and the importance of focusing on “what is necessary versus what is nice to have.” She also stressed the need to secure key stakeholders provincially to ensure a strategic approach to change management.
Part of that strategy entails demonstrating the return on investment in using an electronic system over paper, noted Justin Bates, vice-president Pharmacy Affairs at the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores, who focused his talk on optimally integrating electronic documentation to support pharmacy practice. “We realize that IT is an enabler, not the entire solution,” he said. “And at the beginning it can feel like it is slowing down the process, especially for pharmacists on the front-line.”
With CACDS’ launch of MirixaPro its clinical documentation platform Bates said pharmacists can leverage technology to do more of what they should be in their expanded roles. “Dispensing alone won’t result in the desired outcomes [for patients], but technology like MirixaPro helps identify the service opportunities from the dispensing database.”
Lisa Heath, chief knowledge officer at MediResource, said the opportunities for pharmacists to leverage technology to better serve their patients are much greater than for other healthcare professions. “We have digital data on our customers already and we can use technology to understand these patients better,” she said. “Plus these customers are already in the digital space and so we can’t rely on the traditional ways to talk to them anymore.”
Heath urged attendees to “leverage your data to create reasons to communicate with your patient or someone else will develop these digital relationships with your patients.”