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Health information network debuts.

NEWTOWN, Pa. -- Walgreen Co. is among the community pharmacy chains that have joined with CapMed and IBM Corp. to provide patients with their medication histories. Consumers in New York and North Carolina are participating in pilot tests of the national health information network (NHIN).

According to CapMed, a division of Bio-Imaging Technologies Inc., the pilot is part of a prototype network being built under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to facilitate the secure sharing of information among pharmacies, physicians, hospitals and laboratories. A nationwide program is projected to be in place by 2014.

The pilot, known as the "Consumer Empowerment Use Case," has been developed to demonstrate how to provide consumers with a means of securely and electronically accessing information important to their health and wellness.

Upon completion of a registration form that confirms their identity, patient volunteers for the pilot can download their medication histories into a customized personal health record (PHR). In New York patient volunteers are from the Fishkill/ Taconic region; from North Carolina, residents of the Research Triangle Park area and Rockingham County are participating.

Surescripts, the nation's largest provider of electronic prescribing services, is also collaborating on the pilot. The project is characterized as the first implementation in which a patient can electronically and securely access a consolidated record of his or hers prescription history from participating retailers.

Besides Walgreens, community pharmacy chains involved in the pilot include Rite Aid Corp. and Stop & Shop Cos.

"There are millions of people in this country whose lives depend on properly managing their medications," notes Surescripts president and chief executive officer Kevin Hutchinson. "Providing these and millions of other patients with secure access to their medication history represents an enormous opportunity for patient empowerment.

"This pilot will provide practical insights on how medication history is accessed, used, updated and--most important--valued by patients themselves. It is the latest example of how community pharmacies are helping to build an electronic backbone to support the exchange of critical information among patients, physicians and pharmacists."

CapMed general manager Wendy Angst asserts that electronic PHRs can transform the health care system, "saving the valuable time of physicians and other providers" and helping patients to manage their health.

"When patients cannot easily share up-to-date medical histories it can lead to costly repetition of examinations and testing," she points out. "At worst it can lead to delayed diagnoses--and even death.

"An underlying theme for the NHIN initiative is that empowered and informed consumers will be better able to manage their own health care. We have designed a product that has been proven to be easy to use, with multiple ways to manage and share information so as to encourage widespread adoption within this initial trial."

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Title Annotation:Focus
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Jan 22, 2007
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