In an effort to create safer, more effective patient care, the pharmacy industry has turned to informatics as a way to ensure that medications are administered properly, to streamline processes and to monitor the progress of patients. With increasing mandates requiring better quality care to patients, health care professionals will rely even more heavily on electronic data, and pharmacy professionals will need to provide instant access to information so that doctors, nurses and other professionals can make better informed decisions related to patient care.
Less Chance for Error
The old system of written prescription orders allow for significant errors, some of which were deadly. There could be a miscommunication between the pharmacist and health care provider, the handwriting may not be clear, or the pharmacist could simply misread a dosage amount. Now, through electronic prescription methods, there is less chance for error. In addition, there is more transparency, efficiency and quality. It is easier for health care providers, pharmacists and patients to monitor drug interactions, potential drug abuse and possible side effects.
Sharing of Patient Information
One of the major goals of health care informatics in the pharmacy industry is to allow pharmacies and other health care organizations to share patient information. Health care informatics provides methods for patients to access information related to their prescription drug history, and electronic prescription histories also allow patients to access prescription information from a distance. This is beneficial for patients who travel and find themselves in a situation where they must refill a prescription because their medications were lost in transit or they left crucial medications at home.
The pharmacy industry is in need of professionals who are educated in health care informatics almost more than any other health care industry. This has led many colleges and universities, including UIC, to develop programs specifically for pharmacy-related health care informatics. The programs merge pharmacy knowledge with technology in an effort to create professionals with a focus on patient safety and transparency using electronic methods.
The field of health informatics has grown significantly over the past several years, and the pharmacy industry is no exception. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act and legislation such as HIPAA requiring patient privacy, more pharmacies are finding a need for professionals with knowledge of medications, interactions and side effects as well as the technological side of the industry.