Pharmacy Guild takes a wait and see approach to PCEHR

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has clarified its position on community pharmacy involvement in the PCEHR, saying that while a concern over legal risks to pharmacists using the system had largely been overcome, it would wait to review its position until the outcome of the new government's audit of the system was known.

In a scorecard on PCEHR and eHealth uptake released last week, NEHTA reported that it understood that the Pharmacy Guild had advised members not to sign the PCEHR participation agreement until systems were in place to allow individual users to be identified.

NEHTA said uptake amongst pharmacists outside the lead eHealth sites was being hampered by difficulties in identifying individual users of common pharmacy terminals, which is a requirement of the PCEHR.

NEHTA's figures show that as of July 10, 271 community pharmacies were registered in the PCEHR system, but most of those were in Tasmania, Victoria or Queensland and were involved in the trial that established the National Prescription and Dispense Repository (NPDR).

In a statement to Pulse+IT, a spokesperson for the Guild said the legal risks had been “largely overcome”, but the organisation would not review its recommendation against signing the agreement until the new government announced what it planned to do.

“The Pharmacy Guild of Australia supports the concept of an electronic health record and has invested significant time and financial resources to see such a system become a reality,” the spokesperson said.

“The Federal Election has just concluded and one significant area of policy difference between the major parties is in the area of eHealth. We welcome and support the direction of the incoming Coalition Government where a focus will be on electronic prescriptions and medication management.

“However the Coalition has announced they will undertake an audit of the current [PCEHR system] and we wait to see the outcomes of the new Government’s audit and the subsequent policy changes before we review our position.”

The spokesperson said the technical ability now exists for pharmacies to participate in the PCEHR.

“We now however have an audit which could result in changes to the PCEHR and the role of community pharmacy. Our members need a clear path on the future of the system and at present there are many unknowns.”

Industry sources have told Pulse+IT that the main concerns for pharmacists were legal and workflow issues. Unlike most general practitioners, pharmacists can use a number of terminals during their working day and share those terminals with other pharmacists, and logging in and out constantly was not practical.

This posed a legal risk to pharmacists as it is a requirement of the system that healthcare providers who view, upload or download information must be identified through their Healthcare Provider Identifier – Individual (HPI-I) number.

Pulse+IT understands that a password system with additional linking of HPI-Is to the individual's initials has now been created so that pharmacists can use and share multiple terminals with other pharmacists.

The Guild spokesperson said the organisation was committed to continuing to support innovation in eHealth through technology-enabled medication management solutions such as electronic transfer of prescriptions (ETP) and the NPDR.

It recently announced it had negotiated a new Electronic Prescription Scanning Incentive (ePSI) with the Department of Health and Ageing, which it said was developed with the input and full knowledge of the incoming government.

This “shows our commitment to practical, working solutions to ensure uptake of positive solutions for pharmacy to the benefit of the patients and government,” the Guild spokesperson said.

“We are waiting to meet with the Health Minister and other Ministers responsible for eHealth and other health programs to progress these medication management initiatives and discuss how pharmacy can support the outcomes of the PCEHR audit.”

The spokesperson said funding for the ePSI, which can net pharmacies up to $2000 for agreeing to scan a certain percentage of all scripts electronically, was part of the original Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement (5CPA) funding for ETP, which pays for the 15 cent payment for scanned original scripts.

“The expenditure of this money was below budget in the first two years of the Agreement because of slow uptake by doctors and because the 15 cents was payable only for original electronic scripts and repeats – not repeats where the original was not electronic,” the spokesperson said.

“The underspend is now being directed towards the scanning incentive.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

Comments   

# Steve Wilson 2013-09-19 08:47
While the Guild is holding back (understandably ) there is obviously some involvement by community pharmacies in PCEHR; witness for example the recent misadventures where the wrong patient's prescription details were uploaded (repeatedly) to Kate McDonald's record.

Pharmacy has no single professional body here. Sorry for a silly question but is it the case that different pharmacies are taking different approaches to PCEHR, depending on which if any body they belong to, and how they get their IT/eHealth advice?

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