Community pharmacies to be linked with launch of provincial Pharmacy Network

May 26, 2010 (St. John’s, NL) – Newfoundland and Labrador has officially begun connecting community pharmacies to the provincial Pharmacy Network, the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services announced today.

Minister Kennedy was joined by Mike Barron, CEO of the Centre for Health Information, Don Rowe, Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board, Don Sweete, Canada Health Infoway’s Executive Regional Director for the East, and Paul LePage, Vice President and General Manager of Healthcare Delivery Solutions, TELUS. The Pharmacy Network is a provincial drug information system that contains a record of patient medication information and comprehensive drug information which will assist pharmacists in identifying potential adverse drug interactions.

“The provincial Pharmacy Network is a true testament of our government’s commitment to providing timely access to quality health care for the residents of our province, regardless of their location,” said Minister Kennedy. “This is one of the largest and most complex information technology projects undertaken by our province and will make our health care system better, safer and more efficient.”

The Pharmacy Network is a component of the provincial electronic health record (EHR) designed to support improved patient safety and enhanced care for patients. The network will provide pharmacists, and eventually physicians and other authorized health professionals, with medication information when and where it is needed by connecting them to comprehensive electronic medication profiles for their patients.

“The Pharmacy Network will improve the quality of information available to health care professionals in this province and will help reduce medication errors and adverse drug events,” said Mr. Barron. “Implementing the Pharmacy Network is a very important milestone in developing the provincial EHR and we are proud to be on the national forefront in this initiative.”

The Pharmacy Network is a secure system designed to protect the confidentiality of patient information, which is transferred over secure networks. Access to the Pharmacy Network is limited to authorized health care professionals who prescribe, dispense, update and view medications and/or who support system operations.

Implementation in more than 190 community pharmacies province-wide will continue in a phased-in approach throughout 2010. Once a pharmacy is connected, information about medications held at that pharmacy will be added to the Pharmacy Network. Having this information available in the provincial EHR provides a more complete picture for health professionals making decisions about patient care. After community pharmacies, the next step is connecting facilities in the four Regional Health Authorities to the Pharmacy Network.

“The inauguration of the Pharmacy Network marks a significant milestone in the province,” said Mr. Rowe. “Pharmacists have recognized from the outset the great value that linking all pharmacy computers could bring and the ways it could help us to provide better pharmaceutical care to our patients.”

The provincial EHR, including the Pharmacy Network, is a collaborative initiative between the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Health Infoway (Infoway), and the Regional Health Authorities, along with many supporting stakeholders. The Provincial Government and Infoway have committed $8.6 million and $17.9 million respectively in Pharmacy Network development and implementation to date. The Provincial Government will fund the ongoing operation of the Pharmacy Network.

Canada Health Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government. Infoway jointly invests with every province and territory to accelerate the development and adoption of electronic health record projects in Canada.

“Drug information systems like the Pharmacy Network are an important part of a robust electronic health record,” said Richard Alvarez, President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway. “The Pharmacy Network will bring significant benefits to Newfoundland and Labrador by helping doctors and pharmacists ensure patients are taking their medications properly while avoiding unhealthy drug interactions.”

Telus worked in partnership with the Centre for Health Information to build the drug information system that is a foundation for the Pharmacy Network.

“Telus congratulates the Centre and the province for leadership and vision in implementing a province-wide drug information system that integrates all functionality required to benefit both citizens and the healthcare system,” said Mr. Lepage. “At TELUS, we believe that connecting the care continuum is paramount to transforming the way information is used in healthcare and the Pharmacy Network is an excellent example of this.”

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For More Information:

Colleen Ryan
Director of Communications
Centre for Health Information
T: 709-752-6180
C: 709-631-0995
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tansy Mundon
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
T: 709-729-1377
C: 709-685-2646
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Janice Murray
Director, External Communications
TELUS Health Solutions
T: 416-487-5007
C: 416-320-4873 
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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