Manufacturers have yet to capitalize on access to physicians via electronic health record (EHR) systems--but that may so

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - March/April 2011

PDR Network plans to incorporate sponsored services like co-pay cards or dosage calculators in the information available to prescribers via EHR interfaces

PDR Network (San Francisco), which has built up a leadership position in delivering non-promotional information from manufacturers to physicians, is now looking at EHR systems—currently in use by about a third of prescribing physicians—as a new communications channel. The company sponsored a symposium earlier this month where it presented results of surveys of EHR vendors and physicians, finding that physicians will readily accept manufacturer-sourced information (provided that it is a clickable option and not a forced access) in EHR systems. However, the EHR vendors themselves have generally been unaware of the information that could be provided. PDR Network hopes to fill that gap by providing hyperlinks to drug labels and prescribing information, as well as patient-focused services like co-pay cards, sourced from its databases and linked to the EHR system.

“A working physician does three things at the point of care—see the patient, chart results, and initiate a charge,” says Dr. Ed Fotsch, president of PDR Network. “These are the three basic functions of EHR systems for hospital or practice administrators. But, having that platform in place, it makes sense for enabling the physician to do things like check on patient-education resources such as medication guides under REMS programs, or the availability of co-pay cards, to assist the patient in following a therapeutic regimen. Our survey shows that physicians would welcome that access.”

PDR Network, which originated as a medical-societies-sponsored communication channel for drug labels (it acquired Physicians Desk Reference business a couple years ago), currently delivers thousands of REMS documents, drug alerts and recall letters on behalf of manufacturers; all that information, plus its reference materials, could soon be incorporated into EHR systems. However, EHR vendors have not as yet, to any significant degree, connected with manufacturers to acquire such information. “There are thousands of brands, and dozens of EHR vendors,” notes Fotsch. “Providing this physician-oriented information has not yet been a priority for the vendors.”

PDR Network is not unique in identifying this goal; there are some EHR vendors that accept manufacturer-sourced information, and PDR Network has a strategic relationship with Physicians Interactive (Libertyville, IL), which delivers sampling and other information to physicians. And Fotsch notes that “we’re walking a fine line” between what he calls promotional material and “product support” such as drug alerts or coupons sourced from manufacturers. “But why stop with these,” he asks, “when we could also incorporate information like adverse-event reporting, or the availability of clinical trials, into the EHR—all of which can improve the safety and well-being of the patient?”

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