Posts By: Beth Osborne

Pharmacy Record Archiving: Is It Right for You?

pharmacy record archiving

Pharmacies have patient records, just like hospitals and providers. They typically live in a pharmacy software management system, allowing pharmacies to monitor each patient’s prescriptions. There are often times when pharmacies need to offload some of these records rather than purge or delete them. When this becomes a need, pharmacy record archiving is a great option.

What Is Pharmacy Record Archiving?

Archiving pharmacy records is the process of migrating patient data from software to an archiving platform. It becomes a vessel for long-term storage that’s secure and compliant with HIPAA and HITRUST. 

What Prompts the Need to Archive?

There are several reasons pharmacies choose to archive. Here are common scenarios:

  • Moving to a new software: If you switch to a new pharmacy management system, you’ll need to convert and/or archive data. Typically, you don’t want to move all your data into your new system. Some you can purge, but other records you need to keep to follow medical record retention laws
  • Closing a pharmacy: If a pharmacy closes, someone still has to be the custodian of those records. In an acquisition, the buying pharmacy may select only the last few years to migrate to their software, archiving the rest. If the pharmacy shutters without a purchaser, the pharmacist in charge still needs those records to be accessible.
  • Creating more space in an existing system: Pharmacies that have been using the same software for years often consider archiving to free up space so that the platform performs better. 
  • Eliminating on-premises legacy systems: Some pharmacies have on-site servers from legacy software. They are still paying for the equipment and system and can eliminate this tool with a cloud-based archiving solution.

The Benefits of Pharmacy Record Archiving

Opting for data archiving can deliver many benefits for pharmacies. Those include:

  • Easy access: A web-based solution allows users to access records anywhere with a login.
  • Audit readiness: An archiving platform can offer print-ready audit reports if you need them.
  • Cost savings: Retiring legacy systems and physical servers will save you lots of money.
  • More secure: An encrypted archiving platform is more secure than a legacy system, which may not be supported any longer.
  • Storage for all: You can archive documents, images, and data in one spot.
  • Searchability: Need to find something fast? Robust search parameters reduce the time to find specific records.

Considering Archiving?

If your pharmacy is in a situation where archiving can be helpful, the next step is to find the best solution. Our archiving system, ViewMaster, offers all the features and functionality you need in a compliant manner. Check out how it works by downloading the ViewMaster for Pharmacy product sheet

New Report: U.S. Drug Prices Are 2.56 Times Higher Than Other Nations

drug prices

RAND Corporation, a research organization, published a new report on U.S. Drug Prices. The report, International Prescription Drug Price Comparisons: Current Empirical Estimates and Comparison with Previous Studies, offers some interesting analysis. According to the study, U.S. drug prices are 2.56 times higher than other nations. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sponsored the research to discern how much higher prices are in America. 

The sponsors were already aware of the fact that the U.S. spends more on prescriptions per capita than any other. The question was how much, and now we know. 

About the Study

This study on drug prices is unique because it focuses on differences in costs without considering volume or mixes of medications. They did this by looking at price indexes. The calculations in the report come from 2018 data. The comparison was between the U.S. and 32 other countries. 

The pricing model used was manufacturer pricing. Net pricing wasn’t available, which would take into account rebates and discounts. The reason for this is because they aren’t available across the board. 

The researchers made comparisons regarding overall pricing as well as brand-name and generic prescriptions. 

Key Findings

  • Overall pricing revealed that the U.S. prices are 2.56 times greater than those of the other countries. 
  • With brand-name drugs, the gap was even greater at 3.44 times. Those that were the most expensive in this category included treatments for cancers or hepatitis C. They can cost thousands of dollars per dose. 
  • Generic drugs are slightly lower in the U.S. than others; however, that group represents only 12% of U.S. spending. Although generics make up 84% of prescriptions sold in the country. 
  • Of the 32 countries, looking specifically at the G7, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy generally have the lowest prescription prices. Canada, Germany, and Japan tend to have higher prices.

Thus, the conclusion is that brand-name drugs are the key component in that overall, 2.56 number. No matter the methodology, brand-name drugs were the high price driver. Even when adjusting U.S. pricing for known discounts, the U.S. remained substantially higher than its peers. 

The authors assert that competition among the highest-priced medications could steer costs down. However, these are specialized drugs, so it’s not likely this will happen soon. 

Prescriptions Percentage of All Healthcare Costs

The study notes that estimates state that prescription drug spending accounts for around 10% of all healthcare costs. Drug spending in the U.S. rose by 76% between 2000 and 2017. Further, this area is forecasted to increase faster than any other segment. 

What’s the Future of Drug Prices?

Currently, the healthcare system has a target focus on the pandemic. Drug companies have put most of their time and effort into a vaccine. Much of the healthcare system is up in the air as to what comes next. New legislation, innovation, and more could all impact the future. 

Digital Vaccine Cards: Is This the Answer to Verifying Vaccinations?

digital vaccine card

The last year in healthcare has been one of strain and challenges. In such a short time, there’s been years of innovation to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine and facilitate better care. The tie between healthcare and technology is stronger than ever. So with conversations about digital vaccine cards—is this a way to verify vaccinations while also ensuring the security and confidentiality of patient records?

Vaccine Rollouts Are Ramping Up

The initial vaccine rollout was slow. Now government agencies are developing partnerships with providers to ensure it goes faster and smoother. One of the most important relationships is with pharmacists, a group of clinicians that have been on the front lines since day one. 

Currently, as most of you have seen, patients receive a paper card with vaccination information. The healthcare ecosystem and consumers are expressing a collective sigh regarding paper-based records. After all, we all carry around little computers that enable users to complete many secure tasks. Yet here we are with paper again. However, there are innovators out there trying to turn this digital. 

Verifying Vaccinations Is Both a Complex and Simple Problem

Transmitting verifiable information through secure tunnels and layers of trust isn’t new. These transactions occur every day in healthcare, finance, and many other use cases. Implementing is the real problem. The U.S. healthcare system is fragmented. There are multiple stakeholders, which creates challenges. Interoperability and data exchange are real barriers that impair innovation and better solutions. 

The other big problem with a digital vaccine card deployment is that there’s no definitive answer on where people will use it. Will you need it to board a flight? Enter a healthcare facility? Attend an event? 

With uncertainty, a system must be flexible to accommodate many outcomes. 

Who Are the Parties?

Another aspect of the complexity is the many parties involved in the process. First are the holders or patients. Then there’s the central authority or issuer, which would be the healthcare provider or government entity. Then there’s the verifying party, which could be a lot of different groups, as noted above. The move to require vaccines for certain activities is likely coming. Some airlines are already mandating it, and many other organizations may as well, as long as they are legally able to do so. 

Further, in this very big picture, the solution must be global. That’s extremely difficult, but not impossible. The world has standardization around some verifiable documentation like passports. 

Where the Process Is

The pathway to creating digital vaccine cards is in motion. A coalition is working on SMART health cards that will include encrypted vaccine records. Members include Cerner, Epic, the Mayo Clinic, Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce. That’s an impressive group mixing technology and healthcare. 

Any concerns about the security of these digital vaccine cards are also top of mind. Cryptographic protocols are already in existence to protect sensitive data. The biggest constraint is infrastructure. It’s going to require software to integrate healthcare records and appointment platforms. That’s going to be much more expensive than the current paper-based method. The roots of this concern are the systemic issue in healthcare regarding data sharing. This is a moment where the world of healthcare could see a huge leap forward. 

Are Digital Vaccine Cards the Answer?

There are many pros to this approach, but there are obstacles ahead. Embracing technology typically translates to positives for people and organizations. It will be exciting to see what happens next. We’ll keep tracking this story and its progress.