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    NACDS: Health IT Vital to Helping Patients Take Medications Correctly

    In a statement submitted as part of a congressional hearing yesterday, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) continued its campaign to raise awareness of pharmacy’s ability to help patients take their medications correctly, save and improve lives, and reduce health care costs, and highlighted the importance to this effort of technology-based strategies such as electronic prescribing and electronic medication records.

    In a statement submitted as part of a congressional hearing yesterday, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) continued its campaign to raise awareness of pharmacy’s ability to help patients take their medications correctly, save and improve lives, and reduce health care costs, and highlighted the importance to this effort of technology-based strategies such as electronic prescribing and electronic medication records.

    “Chain pharmacies have been on the leading edge of the adoption of pharmacy health information technology systems (HIT) for many years,” the statement read. “We have been actively involved in fostering the use of technology to improve the quality of patient care and developing standards to allow the exponential growth of HIT in pharmacy practice. Systems assist pharmacy with providing critical patient care services such as medication therapy management (MTM) and evaluation of patients’ adherence to prescribed drug therapy regimens, in addition to providing pharmacists with information on patients’ prescribed drugs, potential drug-to-drug interactions, and drug dosing.”

    NACDS submitted its statement to the Health Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, which hosted the hearing on “Efforts to Promote the Adoption and Meaningful Use of Health Information Technology.”

    MTM refers to counseling by pharmacists and other steps to help patients improve health by taking medications correctly and by reducing the risk of adverse events. NACDS emphasized that such counseling requires reliable patient information, and that electronic prescribing “is the most critical prerequisite for the adoption and use of electronic health records and other forms of HIT.”

    NACDS urged the inclusion of pharmacy in programs designed to foster widespread HIT adoption. “As the most consumer-accessible health care provider, pharmacy’s critical role should be recognized in the development of an interoperable health care system,” the organization said. “As such, pharmacies should be considered for any grant or incentive funding that fosters further adoption of HIT.”

    NACDS also noted the importance of legislation in the House of Representatives (H.R. 3108) and in the Senate (S. 3543) that it said would improve the Medicare Part D benefit. The association is waging a long-term campaign to raise awareness of the ability of MTM to help patients take medications correctly, which the health care community refers to as “medication adherence.” The cost of poor adherence has been estimated by the New England Healthcare Institute to cost as much as $290 billion annually — or 13 percent of total health care expenditures.

    NACDS’ complete statement to the subcommittee can be downloaded by clicking here: http://www.nacds.org/user-assets/pdfs/2010/newsrelease/7_20_HIT_Testimony.pdf

    Alexandria, Va.-based NACDS represents 154 traditional drug stores, supermarkets, and mass merchants with pharmacies — from regional chains with four stores to national companies. NACDS members also include more than 900 pharmacy and front end suppliers, and over 70 international members from 24 countries. Chains operate 37,000 pharmacies and employ more than 2.5 million employees, including 118,000 full-time pharmacists, and fill more than 2.5 billion prescriptions annually, which is more than 72 percent of annual prescriptions in the United States, according to the association.
     

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