Is Interoperability With Pharmacy Automation the Next Step for EMRs?

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Due to an increasing amount of high-deductible health insurance plans, patients are becoming more engaged consumers. As a result, physicians and practices are looking for ways to increase the value of their care while keeping their practices running efficiently.

EMR software and pharmacy automation are two IT solutions that have made a large impact on healthcare systems. Therefore, it’s no wonder physicians are asking: how can interoperability between EMRs and pharmacy automation contribute to cost-efficient and value-based care?

What is Pharmacy Automation?

Pharmacy automation is the process of using machines to handle and distribute medications. It allows pharmacists to prepare prescriptions in an efficient and accurate manner. The tasks performed by pharmacy automation include counting capsules, measuring and mixing substances for compound drugs, and tracking inventory in addition to registering and updating patient identifiable information, medication allergies, medical history, and drug interactions. Barcodes may also be integrated for additional verification measures.

The Current Role of Pharmacy Automation

Currently, pharmacy automation systems are used in inpatient settings, such as hospitals with in-house pharmacies. Through the use of computerized physician order entry (CPOE), physicians are able to electronically send prescriptions to the in-house pharmacist. This eliminates the need for written, faxed, or verbal prescription orders and results in clearer communication.

In hospital settings, the use of automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs) is increasing patient safety by reducing the risk of human error. These cabinets are also increasing efficiency among the nursing staff by having medications in-house and eliminating the need for medication delivery by third parties.

How Will Interoperability with Pharmacy Automation Improve Your Practice and Patient Care?

In hospitals and private practices, patients receive care from multiple physicians and are often taking multiple prescriptions. When it comes to prescribing, keeping tabs on what medication a patient is taking before filling a prescription for a new one is an extra key step in the care process. It’s easy for patients with multiple chronic conditions to forget about a medication they take, or to think it’s unimportant when listing off their habitual medication for their doctor – so an electronic system that communicates the patient’s medication history to the pharmacist adds an extra safeguard.

In 2015 alone, there were 4.37 billion prescriptions written, enough for millions of errors to occur even if merely a small percentage of this number results in a dispensing mistake. The ability of EHRs to transfer information to pharmacy automation systems allows for enhanced error detection, such as missed drug allergies and discrepancies between diagnostic results and the medication prescribed.

Through interoperability between EMRs and pharmacy automation, patient-generated data created before an appointment and provided to a practice can be sent to the patient’s pharmacy without the need to provide or manually enter patient information again. Patient engagement, such as the use of an EMR-integrated patient portal, is not only empowering, but is also a key component of patient-centered care as well as a crucial part of being qualified as an accountable care organization (ACO), if that’s the route your practice is taking.

The Future is Now

With more prescriptions being written each year, we believe the importance of connecting pharmacy automation and EMR is becoming clearer.

For more information on how interoperability between EMR software and pharmacy automation can help you better achieve value-based care, contact us online or call us at 480-782-1116.