Hallarn, who did not participate in the study, recovered fully from her bout with shingles, and got vaccinated to help prevent a recurrence. An active user of her online health record, Hallarn says she requested a prescription for the shingles vaccine online through her chart, but then had to manually update her file to reflect that she had gotten the vaccine, something that study authors acknowledge is an ongoing issue.
"We found a few patients that said they had already been vaccinated, but there was no record of it in their EMR, which isn't surprising given that the current information exchange between a physician's office and a community pharmacy is extremely limited," said Beatty. "As EMR use and a team approach to patient care increases, this health information exchange will be critical for success."
As an example, the authors reported that during the EMR review, pharmacists were able to identify a few patients who shouldn't get the vaccine. These patients had their chart updated so the contraindication will appear for any provider trying to order the vaccine in the future. According to Tayal, this offers a peek at the potential of EMRs.
"Between 40 and 60% of office-based providers and hospitals in the US have adopted an EMR system. While it's too early to tell whether EMRs will save money, our intervention model shows there are opportunities to manage chronic and preventable illnesses, prevent medication interactions, and integrate team-based care in ways that would result in better care and cost savings," said Tayal.
Winter and spring are the most common times of the year for shingles outbreaks. According to Tayal, shingles generally causes a blistering rash on the face, chest, belly or legs, and is accompanied by intense pain lasting between 2-4 weeks. Some patients are stricken with a prolonged pain syndrome called "post herpetic neuralgia" that can last months, or in rare cases, years. The rash can lead to complications ranging from blindness to urinary problems. The pain often develops before a rash is noticed so patients often seek medical attention for pain that is misdiagnosed until the rash develops. The vaccine can reduce the chances of catching shingles by 51% or reduce the severity of an outbreak.
SOURCE The Ohio State University