Talking Health Informatics with the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists

On June 4 – 7, 2017, I represented HIMSS at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Informatics Institute at the ASHP Summer Meetings in Minneapolis, Minn.  The Informatics Institute provides programming that aims to improve utilization of health IT in all pharmacy practice areas. Informatics Institute attendees included ASHP members of the Section of Pharmacy Informatics and Technology (SOPIT).

The ASHP SOPIT is dedicated to improving health and ensuring that the value of the medication use process through health IT, supported by the utilization and integration of data, information, knowledge, technology, and automation. SOPIT celebrated its 10th anniversary at this year’s Informatics Institute and provided innovative programming with great insight on opportunities and challenges of utilizing technology to improve patient care.

I want to highlight two presentations in particular that specifically resonated with me on how pharmacy informatics issues intersect with my work as a pharmacist at HIMSS.

Lisa Stump, MS, RPh, FASHP, presented Healthcare IT Leadership: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going.  She is senior vice president and chief information officer, Yale New Haven Health System, and recent recipient of the inaugural HIMSS Most Influential Women in Health IT Award. Stump touched on how the use of technology and data has positioned us to change the way we think about and manage health.  This includes the way machines “think” about health and the potential to use new tools, such as artificial intelligence to care for patients.

She believes that in times of great change, we often see great confusion, and that great leaders can help to navigate and get through the chaos. She led the audience on an historical journey of the medication use process and explained  how pharmacists, through technology, gained control over the process, one with incredible potential for future improvements. Stump also highlighted the future direction of technology, including mHealth wearables–and their importance in population health management--smart pills and biometric tracking, and precision medicine. She noted that, “the future is not something we enter; it is something that we create.”

Key leadership takeaways from Stump’s presentation include:

  • Imagination and optimism are required to supplement realistic goals;
  • We must understand the process of change, to include where we came from and where we need to go;
  • We must keep the patient and patient care at the center of every decision;
  • It is important to align resources and bring an appropriate sense of urgency to the decision making process;
  • Health IT jobs must be completed on time and on budget, which includes ensuring good project managers are on board to help see the job to completion; and,
  • Success stories must be shared.

Another highlight of the Informatics Institute was a collaborative presentation between SOPIT and the ASHP Medication Safety Collaborative Track regarding Medication Safety & Technology: Transitions, Challenges, and Strategies.

Dr. Karen Zimmer, MD, a health IT consultant, highlighted ways to mitigate patient safety issues, as we continue to see improvements and innovations in technology. Zimmer noted that although EHR utilization has skyrocketed since the introduction of the EHR Incentive Program, there has not yet been as much improvement with safety and the medication management process.

With the widespread adoption of technology, a need exists to ensure it is operating as intended.   Awareness of safety issues from technology utilization has reduced some types of prescription errors, but sharpened the focus on other system-level issues. Zimmer emphasized that adopting surveillance techniques and post-implementation monitoring of technology is just as important as the tool itself. Additionally, she noted that the usability piece of technology has to be in place and at the front line of design to improve patient safety.

HIMSS Resources

HIMSS will continue to follow pharmacy informatics issues, as they relate to improving health through IT.  For more information and resources on pharmacy informatics, please visit the HIMSS website on pharmacy informatics.