Pharmacy Informatics and Patient-Centered Care

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Pharmacy informatics is one of the newest specialties in pharmacy practice. Informatics professionals focus on the many innovative ways that technology can improve health care within the pharmacy industry. Informaticists help develop and implement new technologies to better serve professionals and patients.

The Scope of Pharmacy Informatics

Pharmacy informatics focuses on the use of technology to optimize prescription fulfillment and use. A specialist in pharmacy informatics collects data and information within the pharmaceutical field, such as the number of prescriptions filled, the average time for fulfilment, and demographics pertaining to patients. Pharmaceutical informaticists help improve safety and efficiency so patients can enjoy a better overall experience.

Informatics and the Patient

Informatics can directly benefit the pharmacy patient in many ways. Technologies such as e-prescriptions and automated prescription dispensing machines streamline the process of filling prescriptions to make them fast and easy for patients. E-prescriptions also eliminate common problems such as mistakes as a result of illegible prescriptions or misunderstood abbreviations.

A pharmacy informaticist will analyze the way prescriptions are filled within a specific area and recommend technologies and operational changes that will improve the patient’s experience. This helps each pharmacy become a patient-centered environment, providing:

  • Better coordination and planning
  • Patient engagement
  • Continuity of care
  • Team-based care

Pharmacists and Patient-Centered Care

Pharmacists help facilitate a patient-centered care plan by providing the necessary support for self-care. Proper counseling helps patients understand their medication and health care plan. Informatics assists with this process by providing data tracking. Informaticists collect information on referral tracking, follow-up care, and case management. This data helps them improve the workflow of the pharmacy and streamline care management. The end result is an optimized experience for every patient.

Improvements for a Patient-Centered Pharmacy

Improved data management systems can give pharmacists the information needed to improve care for each patient. Profiles that track patient care and interactions give the pharmacist a better picture of the patient’s overall situation. Armed with this information, the pharmacist can offer personalized counseling and a better care plan that takes into account potential pitfalls as identified in previous interactions with the patient. Data and information are always valuable in the health care industry. Patient-centered care improves when the health care team has a better understanding of the individual as a whole person and not a single prescription.

Getting Involved in Informatics

Pharmacy informatics is a relatively new area. Health informatics degrees are available for experienced pharmacists that can help them take their careers to a new level. You can take an active role in the future of the health care industry with this specialty. You’ll learn to analyze health care information and use it to enhance patient care in the pharmacy. Best of all, you can pursue this degree online through a school like the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Health informatics can bring the principles of patient-centered care into the pharmacy by equipping pharmacists with the tools and information they need to offer improved case management and personalized care to each patient. Get involved now with an exciting master’s degree in this area.

Image via Flickr by Army Medicine