Pharmacists, physicians, health insurers and other stakeholders have teamed up in the US to launch The Center for Improving Medication Management.

The aim is to promote safer use of medicines by determining and disseminating best practice for the deployment of technology that links physicians, pharmacists and patients electronically.

The stakeholders also see a marked opportunity to improve healthcare quality and better manage costs by boosting patient adherence to prescribed medication. According to studies cited in a recent report by the National Council on Patient Information and Education, only around 50% of American patients typically take their medicines as prescribed.

The Center for Improving Medication Management is the brainchild of SureScripts, founded in 2001 by the US National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association to improve the safety and efficiency of the prescribing process and enable the electronic exchange of prescription information. SureScripts already operates the Pharmacy Health Information Exchange, a network service that facilitates the electronic transmission of prescribing information between pharmacists, physicians and patients.

Its partners in the new initiative are the American Academy of Family Physicians, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Humana Inc, Intel Corporation and the Medical Group Management Association. The co-founders, covering the spectrum of healthcare providers, professionals, payers and employers, have each committed human resources and expertise to the Center but “none were asked to write a check”, they noted. The initial capital comes from SureScripts and the Center will accept additional funding on a case-by-case basis.

Improving outcomes

The Center for Improving Medication Management will conduct research exploring how physicians, pharmacists and patients can use technology and the exchange of health information to improve the way medicines are prescribed, filled, used and evaluated for patient outcomes.

Some of these projects will involve working with third parties, including leading research groups. Initial discussions are underway with RAND Corporation on a project to demonstrate how certain features of e-prescribing and electronic medical record (EMR) technology affect medication safety, drug use and labour costs for the practices involved.

The Center also plans to educate physicians, pharmacists and the market at large on original approaches to implementing prescribing technology and integrating it with the day-to-day work habits of healthcare providers and their staff.