One of the most perplexing things about our healthcare system is how complicated it can make even simple tasks. This is particularly true when the issue involves sharing information among providers of care. Elsewhere we have talked about the “silo” problem and why it has motivated us to develop a clinic that tries to provide integrated care.
Here I want to highlight the impact of this problem on doctors who want to monitor the medication they are prescribing.
I often ask a patient, “when did you start a new medication” or ” when did you make a dose change.” This is not because I don’t know when I wrote the prescription. Because there can be lags in filling or picking up a prescription and because electronic prescribing software does not allow doctors to see when a prescription was filled or picked up, it is not possible for me to know when someone gets a new medication.
Another aspect of this problem is that I can’t know when a patient needs a refill to be written.
[The only exception to this is Alto Pharmacy which has developed a web portal which allows physicians and patients to access information about when a prescription is filled and when a refill is necessary. I encourage everyone to use Alto, which also delivers medications directly to your home at no cost.]
The only workaround, for those who don’t want to change pharmacies, is to download the apps for your drugstore. Downloading the apps means that, when we get together, we can figure out if new prescriptions are necessary (and I can do a better job of monitoring your care). It also means that you can be in charge of your prescription refills – you can know when I need to approve another refill, and when you already have a prescription that is waiting to be filled.
Here are the links to the pharmacy apps.
Note, because the apps give access to confidential healthcare information, the sign up process is complex, and, in the case of the Walgreens app, requires you visit the pharmacy as the last step in the sign-up process.