What is Pharmacy Informatics?
New technology is being introduced into healthcare everyday. These innovations have increased the importance of health information technology (HIT) which is the exchange of health information in an electronic environment. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), health information technology within the healthcare industry will “improve the quality of healthcare, prevent medical errors, reduce healthcare costs, increase administrative efficiencies, decrease paperwork, and expand access to affordable healthcare.”1 As a result, the discipline of pharmacy informatics has become crucial within healthcare systems.
Webster’s Dictionary defines informatics as the “collection, classification, storage, retrieval, and dissemination of recorded knowledge.” This extensive use of knowledge is also referred to as information science. The knowledge obtained can be used to examine both new and existing problems from wide-ranging perspectives.
Applying this science to healthcare has been invaluable to patient care, especially within the practice of pharmacy. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) describes pharmacy informatics as the “effective management and delivery of medication-related data, information, and knowledge across systems that support the medication-use process.”2
An informatics pharmacist contributes to patient care by analyzing, implementing, and evaluating information in order to improve patient care by enhancing efficiency and accuracy in the medication-use process. These pharmacists are experienced within HIT systems in addition to having knowledge of pharmacy practice and medication safety. The informatics pharmacist is essential to the workflow within the pharmacy and throughout the health system.
The roles and responsibilities of an informatics pharmacist includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE) implementation and maintenance
- Barcode scanning
- Automated dispensing machines (or cabinets)
- Smart pumps
- Electronic Medication Administration Records (eMARs)
- Inventory management systems
- Analytics reporting for various metrics, such as pharmacy data, cost data, and more
Informatics pharmacists possess the skills to manage the complex electronic systems that guides pharmacy practice and medication safety. Their experiences with pharmacy workflow and clinical decision support, combined with a strong knowledge of electronic systems and communication skills, leads to informatics pharmacists being an invaluable member of the pharmacy team and patient care process.
Cover image source: Digital Health Age @ http://digitalhealthage.com/now-healthcare-responds-to-cqc-investigation-on-online-pharmacies/