Pharmacy network rolling out

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Barb Sweet
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Health care professionals to have computer access to patients' medication information

All pharmacies across the province will be hooked up to a single electronic network by the end of the year.

The province has officially started connecting the community pharmacies to the provincial pharmacy network, Health Minister Jerome Kennedy announced Wednesday. More than 190 across the province will be phased into the system by the end of the year.

The pharmacy network contains patient medication information and drug information to assist pharmacists in identifying potential adverse drug interactions.

Health Minister Jerome Kennedy (centre) announces details of the Provincial Pharmacy Network at the Confederation Building media centre Wednesday morning. Also attending (from left) are: Paul Lepage, Healthcare Delivery Solutions, TELUS, Montreal, Que.; D

All pharmacies across the province will be hooked up to a single electronic network by the end of the year.

The province has officially started connecting the community pharmacies to the provincial pharmacy network, Health Minister Jerome Kennedy announced Wednesday. More than 190 across the province will be phased into the system by the end of the year.

The pharmacy network contains patient medication information and drug information to assist pharmacists in identifying potential adverse drug interactions.

It is also expected to help prevent double doctoring - whereby prescription drug addicts try to obtain prescriptions from different physicians for addictive drugs such as OxyContin.

Kennedy said the pharmacy network is one of the largest and most complex information technology projects undertaken in the province.

It's also been a long time coming.

The concept was first touted by the Crown agency, Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information (NLCHI) in the late 1990s.

CEO Mike Barron said the request for proposals was issued nationally in 2005. It was won by Healthcare Delivery Solutions TELUS.

"Nothing good comes easy or quick," Barron said Wednesday.

NLCHI is overseeing the implementation of a provincial electronic health record system of which the pharmacy network is part.

The network will provide pharmacists, and eventually physicians and other authorized health professionals, with medication information when and where it is needed by connecting them to comprehensive electronic medication profiles for their patients.

"The pharmacy network will improve the quality of information available to health care professionals in this province and will help reduce medication errors and adverse drug events," Barron said.

"We're convinced that more effective use of health information between pharmacists, doctors, patients in Newfoundland and Labrador will realize significant benefits for the province and its constituents," said Paul LePage, vice-president and general manager of Healthcare Delivery Solutions TELUS.

Access to the pharmacy network is limited to authorized health care professionals who prescribe, dispense, update and view medications over secure networks.

Kennedy said patients can also mask their medical profile with a password. But the system will still process the information and alert pharmacists if there is a drug interaction.

Don Rowe of the Newfoundlandand Labrador Pharmacy Board said when computers were new to pharmacies in the early 1990s, many pharmacists were reluctantto adopt the new technology.

"I personally was convinced that I would be retired before computers became generally used in pharmacies," Rowe said.

But he said pharmacists quickly saw the benefits and have been supportive of the pharmacy network.

He said studies have indicated as much as 10 per cent of hospitalizations are due to medication-related incidents.

The pharmacies will upgrade their equipment, but $4,000 will be given to each retail pharmacy to assist with the cost.

After community pharmacies are online, the next step is connecting facilities in the four regional health authorities to the pharmacy network.

Once all the pharmacies are online, a customer can take their prescription anywhere in the province.

Within two to three years, physicians will file their prescriptions electronically, Barron said.

Provincial electronic health records is a collaborative project that includes NLCHI, the province, Canada Health Infoway and the regional health authorities. To date, the provincial government and Infoway - a not-for-profit funded by the federal government - have committed $8.6 million and $17.9 million, respectively, in pharmacy network development and implementation.

The province will fund the ongoing operation of the pharmacy network.

bsweet@thetelegram.com

Organizations: TELUS, Crown agency, Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information Newfoundlandand Labrador Pharmacy Board Canada Health Infoway

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Vickie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    This might be bad news for anyone who knows their pharmacist on a first name basis and might be embarrassed by a particular med so they get it elsewhere....small towns and whatnot.....but it's a great move in the right direction for a lot of good reasons.. The benefits far outweigh the down sides.

  • I C Clearly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Mercedes Jones - I'm sure that the Nosey Parkers of the world are clamouring to get a look at what medications you are taking - you'll be the talk of the town for months... Seriously though, I see the system doing far more good than harm. The software should reduce drug conflicts, get better controls over narcotics, and provide more timely insight into macro trends in health care. Privacy is a red herring - pharmacists really don't care what you're taking, as long as you're buying it from them they will be happy.

  • mercedes
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Another invasion into peoples' privacy. And it isn't to 'assist' the pharmacist who might catch a couple of abusers; it's to give the whole network access to everyones' private information!

  • Telling it like it is
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    mercedes jones, I could make the same argument the phone book is access to your home number and home address.
    Is that an invasion into privacy?

    If the names of abusers were known before hand, sure it would be easy to trend and spot abuses. But for every abuser who gets caught there are numerous others who haven't been yet.

  • g-man
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    this wont stop criminals from getting a fix..now they will all go to the streets for the fix, eg.cocaine,escasy,oxcys,theres a smorgasborg of drugs people can get else where.im willing to bet,our crime rate will know even become worse.this also hurts the innocent.people that look for these pain killers and need them(not junkies)will start to feel like there junkies everytime they ask a pharmacist for codeine.this is just pharmicists being nosy.what if some people run out of pain meds,with probally a day or two before there doctors appointment.this will hurt the innocent more than the criminals.

  • Ken
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Mercedes, you are absolutely right! The potential harm far outweighs the good, at this point. We have seen the reports of employees surfing medical files at the Health Science Center. Imagine when every pharmacy location across the province has the same capability with respect to your medication file. Will Minister Kennedy be masking his file? Will physicians mask theirs? Will prescription files become part of a job applicants newfound concerns? Will these files be mined for some commercial advantage. Apart from the IT specialists, who have been engaged and employed to develop this project, I think some extreme caution is warranted by the rest of us and pay good attention to the point Mercedes has quite thoughtfully made.

  • Gail
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    As a sibling of someone who abused the system and who died from it....I think it's about time. My only problem with this is that the Doctors who have been getting away with writing prescriptions at will, will get away with what they have done and be given a clean slate in the go forward.

  • Barb
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    I say it is about time as well. How many of us know of people who double up on prescriptions. Wonder what they do with the extra prescription? Go to the local high school and check out the action there. You'd be surprised!

  • Will Not Use
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    If we are not given the option to opt out of this potential abuse of personal information, then let the court action begin. How do I know that MY personal information will NOT be used by someone? We have lost all control over the access to personal information. Drug stores have students and teenagers entering this data. br br A travesty to say the least. Where do I send my bill for my stolen identity in advance please?

  • Ned
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    If you're not doing anything under the table as it were , then you would have nothing to worry about would you. As it is with a lot of things,..... it's those that abuse the system that cause problems for those who do things properly, dare I mention ATV's . It would also intervene against those who would use the system for their own gains ,....or worse . I say go nationally to circumvent out of province acquistions. How many addictions have ruined family lives here ??? And while they're at that go nationally with a person's criminal record and make it accessible ANYWHERE in the country , especially with pedophiles and habitual sex offenders!!!

  • Kelly B
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Yet another way for everyday individuals to access private information without anyone monitoring who is doing what. We already saw nurses do this and now more people will have access to information without having to answer to anyone. Sadly, this press conference did not mention how we will be protected and it would be great if a reporter could ask questions that pertain to our interest and privacy.

  • Wow
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Sounds like another gun registry to me. A place for politicians to syphon money and line pockets.

    Yes, Newfoundland has a cutting edge pharmacy information system. A pharmacist will now have all of the information they need when filling a prescription. Was this coded by Danny Williams himself? How exactly is an electronic medical record anything like a gun registry. You do realize that there are province-wide medical records already, do you not? Of course you don't, but you insist in commenting on things you do not want.

    Good luck finding a pharmacist who won't back this idea. Nobody wants to do harm to a patient and they are the gatekeepers who check for adverse reactions.

    It's a good thing. It's sad that Newfoundland is full of ingrates who do nothing else with their lives but complain about the government.

  • Old Salt
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    There was mention in the article about the customer having a password to his/her health profile. How does that work? Yes, there is the sacrifice of confidential information for the patient but that's really the only price we'll pay. Preventing abuse, avoiding unnecessary hospitalization, access (anywhere) to prescription fills and refills and alerts to drug conflicts...all these are positives that we should be willing to embrace. On matters of privacy and confidential records, just remember that in having had your condition diagnosed and treated you have already been exposed to a set of people over whom you have no control. In 2 - 3 years you will be in a comfort zone with the new system. Welcome aboard.

  • mercedes
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Okay, Billy Mcquire from Oregon, I'll fess up; I'm a very boring person, I've got nothing to hide. But I do have a social conscience. Govt keeps all their business secret here, all the while delving into peoples' private business. Double doctoring can't exist here because a majority of us can't get one doctor,being they are so scarce. And just this week govt. announced they are setting up a spy site on Facebook to correct any 'misinterpretations' of their announcements or actions. That certainly interferes with free speech!

  • Billy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    OK, Mercedes, 'fess up - what have you got to hide?

  • Michael
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    Sounds like another gun registry to me. A place for politicians to syphon money and line pockets.

  • Jay
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    God, I can't stand Jerome Kennedy!

  • Vickie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    This might be bad news for anyone who knows their pharmacist on a first name basis and might be embarrassed by a particular med so they get it elsewhere....small towns and whatnot.....but it's a great move in the right direction for a lot of good reasons.. The benefits far outweigh the down sides.

  • I C Clearly
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Mercedes Jones - I'm sure that the Nosey Parkers of the world are clamouring to get a look at what medications you are taking - you'll be the talk of the town for months... Seriously though, I see the system doing far more good than harm. The software should reduce drug conflicts, get better controls over narcotics, and provide more timely insight into macro trends in health care. Privacy is a red herring - pharmacists really don't care what you're taking, as long as you're buying it from them they will be happy.

  • mercedes
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Another invasion into peoples' privacy. And it isn't to 'assist' the pharmacist who might catch a couple of abusers; it's to give the whole network access to everyones' private information!

  • Telling it like it is
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    mercedes jones, I could make the same argument the phone book is access to your home number and home address.
    Is that an invasion into privacy?

    If the names of abusers were known before hand, sure it would be easy to trend and spot abuses. But for every abuser who gets caught there are numerous others who haven't been yet.

  • g-man
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    this wont stop criminals from getting a fix..now they will all go to the streets for the fix, eg.cocaine,escasy,oxcys,theres a smorgasborg of drugs people can get else where.im willing to bet,our crime rate will know even become worse.this also hurts the innocent.people that look for these pain killers and need them(not junkies)will start to feel like there junkies everytime they ask a pharmacist for codeine.this is just pharmicists being nosy.what if some people run out of pain meds,with probally a day or two before there doctors appointment.this will hurt the innocent more than the criminals.

  • Ken
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    Mercedes, you are absolutely right! The potential harm far outweighs the good, at this point. We have seen the reports of employees surfing medical files at the Health Science Center. Imagine when every pharmacy location across the province has the same capability with respect to your medication file. Will Minister Kennedy be masking his file? Will physicians mask theirs? Will prescription files become part of a job applicants newfound concerns? Will these files be mined for some commercial advantage. Apart from the IT specialists, who have been engaged and employed to develop this project, I think some extreme caution is warranted by the rest of us and pay good attention to the point Mercedes has quite thoughtfully made.

  • Gail
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    As a sibling of someone who abused the system and who died from it....I think it's about time. My only problem with this is that the Doctors who have been getting away with writing prescriptions at will, will get away with what they have done and be given a clean slate in the go forward.

  • Barb
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    I say it is about time as well. How many of us know of people who double up on prescriptions. Wonder what they do with the extra prescription? Go to the local high school and check out the action there. You'd be surprised!

  • Will Not Use
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    If we are not given the option to opt out of this potential abuse of personal information, then let the court action begin. How do I know that MY personal information will NOT be used by someone? We have lost all control over the access to personal information. Drug stores have students and teenagers entering this data. br br A travesty to say the least. Where do I send my bill for my stolen identity in advance please?

  • Ned
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    If you're not doing anything under the table as it were , then you would have nothing to worry about would you. As it is with a lot of things,..... it's those that abuse the system that cause problems for those who do things properly, dare I mention ATV's . It would also intervene against those who would use the system for their own gains ,....or worse . I say go nationally to circumvent out of province acquistions. How many addictions have ruined family lives here ??? And while they're at that go nationally with a person's criminal record and make it accessible ANYWHERE in the country , especially with pedophiles and habitual sex offenders!!!

  • Kelly B
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Yet another way for everyday individuals to access private information without anyone monitoring who is doing what. We already saw nurses do this and now more people will have access to information without having to answer to anyone. Sadly, this press conference did not mention how we will be protected and it would be great if a reporter could ask questions that pertain to our interest and privacy.

  • Wow
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Sounds like another gun registry to me. A place for politicians to syphon money and line pockets.

    Yes, Newfoundland has a cutting edge pharmacy information system. A pharmacist will now have all of the information they need when filling a prescription. Was this coded by Danny Williams himself? How exactly is an electronic medical record anything like a gun registry. You do realize that there are province-wide medical records already, do you not? Of course you don't, but you insist in commenting on things you do not want.

    Good luck finding a pharmacist who won't back this idea. Nobody wants to do harm to a patient and they are the gatekeepers who check for adverse reactions.

    It's a good thing. It's sad that Newfoundland is full of ingrates who do nothing else with their lives but complain about the government.

  • Old Salt
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    There was mention in the article about the customer having a password to his/her health profile. How does that work? Yes, there is the sacrifice of confidential information for the patient but that's really the only price we'll pay. Preventing abuse, avoiding unnecessary hospitalization, access (anywhere) to prescription fills and refills and alerts to drug conflicts...all these are positives that we should be willing to embrace. On matters of privacy and confidential records, just remember that in having had your condition diagnosed and treated you have already been exposed to a set of people over whom you have no control. In 2 - 3 years you will be in a comfort zone with the new system. Welcome aboard.

  • mercedes
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    Okay, Billy Mcquire from Oregon, I'll fess up; I'm a very boring person, I've got nothing to hide. But I do have a social conscience. Govt keeps all their business secret here, all the while delving into peoples' private business. Double doctoring can't exist here because a majority of us can't get one doctor,being they are so scarce. And just this week govt. announced they are setting up a spy site on Facebook to correct any 'misinterpretations' of their announcements or actions. That certainly interferes with free speech!

  • Billy
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    OK, Mercedes, 'fess up - what have you got to hide?

  • Michael
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    Sounds like another gun registry to me. A place for politicians to syphon money and line pockets.

  • Jay
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    God, I can't stand Jerome Kennedy!