AS TECHNOLOGY CONTINUES to evolve in medicine the way medical data are handled has also evolved over time. Pharmacy data are a vital component in the electronic health record (EHR) database and can have a direct impact on care quality and pa- tient safety. From the pharmacy-related information presented by the patient during office visits up to the information entered by the provider and sent to the pharmacy, pharmacy data play an important role in providing quality healthcare to patients. This article provides an overview of EHR pharmacy data, the work- flow and special features, and the challenges of maintaining high quality and accurate pharmacy data in the hospital setting.
Use of Pharmacy Data
Pharmacy data are an important component of clinical data
used for direct patient care, including the right medicine for
the right patient, at the right time, at the right dose. Thus, it has
significant impact on quality of care and patient safety. Pharmacy data are also used for non-direct patient care, such as
supporting immunization registries to track patient vaccination
information, prescription drug monitoring programs to track
controlled substance prescriptions, and health information exchange databases tracking and sharing patient information between different healthcare providers. Pharmacy data, as a Big
Data concept, also supports research to track trends and the effectiveness of drugs—for example, using data to monitor a flu
vaccine and to identify whether it is a good match for the common influenza strains circulating in a specific season.
There are many different users who benefit from the safe use
Types of EHR Pharmacy Data
of drugs and maintenance of EHR pharmacy data. Patients are
central users, along with ad hoc users in the management of
medications such as clinical pharmacists, physicians, nurses,
and additional members of the healthcare team. Other users—
such as researchers, policy makers, and quality improvement
managers—use pharmacy data for non-direct patient care. In
addition, pharmacy data analysts, data managers, and health IT
technicians also interact with EHR pharmacy data. Health in-
formation and informatics management (HIIM) professionals
who work in the hospital setting are also playing a key role in
managing and analyzing EHR pharmacy data.
Patient allergy and medication history are two major types of EHR
pharmacy data. They are critical to patient safety and data quality.
Patient allergy data are documented during an office visit.
When the patient first arrives, the allergy information is entered
into the electronic tablet by the patient at check-in, or into the
EHR system by clinical staff. The EHR system has pre-built medication allergy interaction information to allow for allergy interaction checking to occur when new patient medication orders
are entered into the system.
Medication history data are addressed during a regular office
visit. This is the list of medications that the patient is currently on
or has previously been on. The list of available medications, the
amount of the medication, the frequency that the medications
are to be taken, and the route of administration are all chosen
from pre-built lists in the EHR system. Some of the EHR platforms
also allow for external medication history to be reviewed by the
clinical staff. External medication history is information pulled
Managing and Analyzing EHR
Pharmacy Data in the Hospital
Set t i ng
By Shannon H. Houser, PhD, MPH, RHIA, FAHIMA; Jodie Wagner, CPh T; and Christopher O. Holland, RPH