Transforming pharmacy technicians for the future

I support the use of pharmacy technicians in many roles inside acute care pharmacies. I believe that they are a valuable tool and, when properly utilized, pharmacy technicians can not only improve pharmacy operations and patient safety, but can also give pharmacists freedom to focus on clinical duties and patient care. This is why I … Read more

Improving medication safety with accurate medication lists and education [article]

Here’s an interesting article in the October 2012 issue of Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety. The article looks at the impact of pharmacy involvement in the medication reconciliation process. In this “study” pharmacy was involved in ensuring an accurate medication list as well as following up with patients after discharge to “enhance patient … Read more

Teaching Medication Adherence in US Colleges and Schools of Pharmacy [article]

An article in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education takes a look at “the nature and extent of medication adherence education in US colleges and schools of pharmacy”. Surprise, the authors found that “Intermediate and advanced concepts in medication adherence, such as conducting interventions, are not adequately covered in pharmacy curriculums”. Disappointing outcome as medication … Read more

I have seen the end of operational pharmacists in long term care (#LTC)

I spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday in Baltimore, MD at the ASHP Summer Meeting (#ashpsm). I was there for work, and didn’t have an opportunity to participate in any of the sessions. I did however get the opportunity to visit a large long term care pharmacy called Remedi SeniorCare just outside the city. This particular … Read more

Pharmacy technician program standards draft from ASHP now available for comment

This was part of my ASHP NewsLink today - A draft of the updated, revised “Accreditation Standards for Pharmacy Technician Education and Training Programs” [from ASHP] is now available for comment until September 28. After this date, another draft will be developed and made available for one more round of comments. According to the document “the … Read more

Article: A pharmacist-led information technology intervention for medication errors (PINCER)

From a recent article in The Lancet (The Lancet, Volume 379, Issue 9823, Pages 1310 – 1319, 7 April 2012)

Kind of man versus machine study. Actually, it was more like man plus machine versus machine alone.

The control group practices therefore used simple feedback; after collection of data at baseline, control practices received computerised feedback for patients identified as at risk from potentially hazardous prescripting and inadequate blood-test monitoring of medicines plus brief written educational materials explaining the importance of each type of error. Practices were asked to introduce changes they considered necessary within 12 weeks after the collection of data at baseline. Intervention practices received simple feedback plus a pharmacist-led information technology complex intervention (PINCER) lasting 12 weeks.”

Read more

ASHP Summer Meeting 2012 full of pharmacy informatics stuff

I attended the ASHP Summer Meeting last year in Denver, CO for the first time ever. The Summer Meeting was much smaller than the infamous Midyear Meeting, but I must say that there were some great informatics sessions. You can read about my experience last year here:

Well, it looks like the 2012 Summer Meeting is primed and ready to offer just as much interesting informatics stuff this year. The meeting takes place in Baltimore, Maryland June 9-13, 2012. Hope to see you there.

Read more

Effect of med reconciliation on med cost after hospital D/C [article]

The Annals of Pharmacotherapy March 20121 BACKGROUND: Medication reconciliation aims to correct discrepancies in medication use between health care settings and to check the quality of pharmacotherapy to improve effectiveness and safety. In addition, medication reconciliation might also reduce costs. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of medication reconciliation on medication costs after hospital discharge in … Read more

Physician dispensing, that’s some bad mojo right there

Physician dispensing is a hot topic for several reasons. And while I’m not opposed to the use of medication kiosks to dispense medications to patients, I believe that their use must be carefully defined and continuously monitored. As I said in a post in September 2010Under the right set of circumstances, and with thoughtful implementation, kiosks could free up pharmacists to spend more time with patients in emergency departments and urgent care clinics across the country. After all, don’t pharmacists argue for more clinical face time with patients and less association with the physical medication dispensing process? That’s what I’ve been hearing from pharmacists for years.” The key part of that quote is “under the right set of circumstances”. You cannot remove the pharmacist form the medication use process. It would be a mistake to do so, and I believe ultimately would lead to increased patient risk. I’ve worked in retail, long-term care, home infusion and acute care pharmacy, and let’s face it, physicians struggle at times to get things right. That’s why God made pharmacists. While I’m not naive enough to think that a pharmacist has to speak to each and every patient about every medication they use each time they receive it, I do think there should be some oversight of the process; regardless of the method of distribution.

Read more

We’re asking the wrong questions

thoughtful_monkeyA couple of weeks ago I spent the morning with a friend of mine. He also happens to be a pharmacist and the director of a pharmacy IT group for a medium-sized healthcare system. As one might imagine we have similar interests, which means we spend most of our time together talking about pharmacy; where we’ve been, where we’re going, how to make it better, and so on. We both think that pharmacy is moving at a glacial pace when it comes to making important changes and any real change will likely occur long after we’re both retired.

One thing that occurred to us during the conversation was that we always seem to ask the same questions, which always results in the same answers.

  • How do make a process faster [to free up pharmacist’s time]?
  • How do we make a process more efficient [to free up pharmacist’s time]?
  • How do we make a process better [to free up pharmacist’s time]?
  • Etcetera

Read more