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Pharmacies join effort to share prescription data

February 12, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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The nation's largest drug store chains and two grocery store chains that have in-store pharmacies have agreed to expand their data-exchange technologies to give consumers more access to their own health information.

The announcement, made by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, explains that these retailers have agreed to support the Blue Button initiative—a public/private partnership between the healthcare industry and the federal government aimed at giving citizens more secure online access to their electronic health information.

And since a growing number of seniors are going online, this will allow them to check their medication history for errors, access prescription lists from multiple physicians and share this information with their healthcare providers.  

The stores that have now agreed to work toward standardizing prescription information are Walgreens, CVS Caremark, Rite Aid, Kroger and Safeway.

Organizations that have also pledged to promote the adoption of the Blue Button initiative include The National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the Pharmacy Health IT Collaborative and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations.

"An increasingly important part of the Blue Button initiative is making patient information available in secure, simple, standard formats to help spur the development of innovative consumer applications and devices that can help patients better manage their own health care and facilitate the electronic sharing of data with trusted partners, such as medical specialists who might not otherwise have direct access to relevant records," the announcement stated.

"As companies move towards standard formats and the ability to securely transmit this information electronically, Americans will be able to use their pharmacy records with new innovative software applications and services that can improve medication adherence, reduce dosing errors, prevent adverse drug interactions, and save lives."

The pharmacy data-exchange announcement comes just days after the release of a new Health and Human Services' rule that gives patients and their designees direct access to lab test results.