Pharmacy informatics

Pharmacy informatics

= Definition of Pharmacy Informatics =

Pharmacy informatics, also referred to as pharmacoinformatics, is the application of computers to the storage, retrieval and analysis of drug and prescription information. Pharmacy informaticists work with pharmacy information management systems that help the pharmacist make excellent decisions about patient drug therapies with respect to, medical insurance records, drug interactions, as well as prescription and patient information.

Pharmacy informatics is the study of interactions between people, their work processes and engineered systems within health care with a focus on pharmaceutical care and improved patient safety.

Pharmacy informatics can be thought of as a sub-domain of the larger professional discipline of health informatics. Some definitions of pharmacy informatics reflect this relationship to health informatics. For example, the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) defines pharmacy informatics as, "the scientific field that focuses on medication-related data and knowledge within the continuum of healthcare systems - including its acquisition, storage, analysis, use and dissemination - in the delivery of optimal medication-related patient care and health outcomes"

History and Trends in Pharmacy Informatics

The application of computerized information technology to pharmacy practice, including highly specialized software and hardware, is not new. In fact, the term pharmacy informatics is much newer than the domain it specifies. Pharmacists, computer scientists and other specialists brought the first generation of pharmacy-specific computer technology to retail and hospital pharmacies in the 1970s through the 1990s.

A present, major trend in pharmacy informatics is to move from pharmacy-specific systems to larger, fully-integrated information systems that include pharmacy functions as a component of larger clinical information systems, retail prescription management systems and drug supply chain management systems. Another major trend is the accelerating technology diffusion of computerized provider order entry (CPOE) for medication orders in hospitals and electronic prescribing (e-Prescribing) of prescriptions sent via networks from physician offices to retail pharmacies.

Pharmacy informatics professional activity has been growing demonstrably over the past several years. For example, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) created a new organizational section in 2006, the Section on Pharmacy Informatics and Technology (SOPIT), that is expressly, "dedicated to improving health outcomes through the use and integration of data, information, knowledge, technology, and automation in the medication-use process." Also, the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA, [] ) has created a pharmacoinformatics working group to, "promote interaction among AMIA members who are interested in the intersection of technology and medication management."

As a profession, pharmacy practice encompasses many different practice venues including retail, community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy practice, long-term care, mail-order and others. This diversity of pharmacy practices is reflected by a like diversity of stakeholder groups interested in pharmacy informatics and the automation of the drug supply chain. One group, the American Society of Automation in Pharmacy (ASAP, [] ) is notable for its retail-oriented mission, "to assist its members in advancing the application of computer technology in the pharmacist's role as caregiver and in the efficient operation and management of a pharmacy."

In the academic sphere, as of July 1, 2007, pharmacy informatics is a required component of professional pharmacy degree programs. The latest standards from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education ( [] ) require colleges of pharmacy to address pharmacy informatics within their curricula. ACPE expects Doctor of Pharmacy graduates to be familiar with informatics terminology, justifications for systemic processing of data and the consequences, both advantageous and undesirable, of using technological information and communication innovations in healthcare.

Pharmacy informatics practitioners put their energies toward creating standardized, high-reliability workflows developed through an integral approach that aligns the physical-chemical characteristics of drug products, pharmacy staff needs and requirements, work process expectations and outputs, and available information, machine and robotics technologies. The practice of pharmacy informatics also may involve drug information analysis, project management, customer and vendor relations, communications, system administration, technical troubleshooting, computer programming, contracting and business leadership.

Future of Pharmacy Informatics

Pharmacy informatics will likely continue to grow in its scope and importance for some time. When, in 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published the report To Err is Human, the pharmacy community was at once "called out" for allowing unsafe medication management practices to preponderate and "called upon" to dramatically improve the safety of medication use in the United States. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP, [] ), a leading patient safety organization, is well positioned to advance medication safety efforts. ISMP continues to focus on pharmacy informatics and patient information management as key areas of both promise and concern, promise that the application of new information technologies will improve patient safety and concern that the diffusion, adoption and best-practice use of medication management technologies is happening too slowly. Time will tell if pharmacy informatics, as an area of applied information sciences and as a sub-discipline of health informatics, will indeed positively transform medication use so that patients benefit from improved safety and efficacy with respect to the medications they require.

See also

*Clinical decision support system
*Diffusion of innovations
*Inherent safety
*Nursing informatics
*Patient safety
*Preventable medical error
*Unintended consequences

External links

* [ American Medical Informatics Association Pharmacoinformatics Working Group]
* [ American Society of Automation in Pharmacy]
* [ ASHP Section on Pharmacy Informatics and Technology]
* [ HIMSS Pharmacy Informatics]
* [ Pharmacy Informatics Introduction]
* [ Pharmacy Informatics Training]


* [ Implementing Pharmacy Informatics in College Curricula: The AACP Technology in Pharmacy Education and Learning Special Interest Group]

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