An article by Pharmacy e-HIT Collaborative Shelly Spiro from Drug Topics, April 2012
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 set ambitious goals for the nation to integrate information technology into healthcare delivery. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act segment of the bill provides incentives for Medicare and Medicaid providers to use certified electronic health records (EHRs) to achieve specified improvements in healthcare and implement a nationwide EHR system by 2014. Meaningful use criteria are being promulgated in 3 stages. Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments will total $27 billion over a 10-year period with $17 billion designated for EHR development. Pharmacists will not receive direct funding or incentives but pharmacy schools may receive grants for incorporating electronic personal health technology into clinical education. The nation’s goal for EHRs is to reduce costs through less paperwork, improved safety, and reduced duplication of testing, and improve health by gathering a patient’s entire health information in a single location. Electronic connectivity through e-prescribing—the paperless, real-time transmission of standardized prescription data among prescribers, pharmacies, and payers—places pharmacists squarely within the healthcare technology team. The Pharmacy e-Health Information Technology (HIT) Collaborative, a group of 9 national pharmacy organizations and associate members, advocates integrating the pharmacist’s role of providing patient care services into the national HIT interoperable framework. The greatest challenge that pharmacists face in the new era of electronic health information is to be recognized by Medicare and Medicaid as eligible providers of medication-related patient care services and as meaningful use contributors to electronic health information.