Pharmacists play a crucial role in patient care and ensuring that patients don’t have to return to the hospital or doctor’s office to get answers to important questions. Despite the essential functions they perform, pharmacists don’t often have access to health information exchange (HIE) networks, resulting in potentially fragmented care or compromised patient safety.
To address this dilemma, Telligen—the Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) serving Colorado, Iowa and Illinois—partnered with the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) on a year-long pilot project to test and measure pharmacist queries of patient information in the CORHIO PatientCare 360® portal.
“Medications are the only thing that truly follows the patient through the care continuum,” said Katy Brown, PharmD, clinical pharmacy specialist at Telligen. “CORHIO was the ideal partner for this project, since both of our organizations are committed to sharing information to improve health.”
The pilot program included 20 pharmacists from different work settings like hospitals, ambulatory care pharmacies, community pharmacies and consulting pharmacies. Together, they learned how to use PatientCare 360® to access patient data and record their experiences. The group met periodically and took monthly assessments to share challenges and successes.
Before the pilot began, medication records were missing from most health records, and pharmacists could not access full patient information when dispensing medication. This was a medication safety issue, as pharmacists and other health care providers were making decisions about patient care with incomplete data. CORHIO provided real-time access so pharmacists could review key information—like therapy changes and medication allergies—to make more informed decisions and recommendations.
"Medications are the only thing that truly follows the patient through the care continuum. CORHIO was the ideal partner for this project, since both of our organizations are committed to sharing information to improve health."
The pilot participants were able to find valuable information within ambulatory care summary documents, as well as hospital and lab records. They identified several potential uses of the CORHIO portal as they completed care transitions, medication reconciliation, record reviews from prior provider visits and medication therapy management. Pilot participants also benefited from the ability to review lab results for patients, which in some cases, enabled them to make medication adjustments.
Overall, 69 percent of the pilot pharmacists agreed that their ability to provide care improved with HIE access. Because of the pilot’s success, CORHIO is inviting more pharmacists to participate in the network.