The University of Michigan Health System has partnered with CVS to enhance access to health care. Starting in January, UMHS and CVS will begin utilizing a communication pathway between their respective electronic health record systems to allow for better coordination of health services.
Hae Mi Choe, director of pharmacy innovations at University Medical Group, said because UMHS and CVS use electronic health record systems provided by the vendor Epic, they have the ability to share information with each other via the Electronic Health Records.
Choe emphasized the security and safety of the new connection between the respective groups in an interview, as well as the benefits that patients will gain from this new collaboration.
“This functionality exists with any organization that uses Epic, and both parties will comply with all state and federal laws governing confidentiality and disclosure of patient information,” she said.
CVS Health has more than 9,500 retail pharmacy locations nationwide and over 1,100 walk-in medical clinics at the pharmacy locations called MinuteClinics. MinuteClinics are open seven days a week and are staffed primarily by nurse practitioners and physician assistants to administer wellness and prevention services, treat for common illnesses and monitor patients with chronic diseases.
The collaboration between UMHS and CVS Health includes both CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic, and will be available at CVS pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations nationwide.
“We are always searching for new opportunities to provide our patients with the absolute best patient care possible,” said David Spahlinger, executive vice dean for clinical affairs at the University’s Medical School, in a press release. “This affiliation presents us with a unique opportunity to collaborate with CVS health care providers and enhance our system of care for our patients to better meet their needs.”
The connection will allow — only with patient consent — the electronic sharing of messages and alerts from CVS/pharmacy to UMHS-affiliated physicians in situations such as medication compliance. MinuteClinic will also be able to electronically share patient visit summaries with the patient’s UMHS primary care physician.
Currently, when a patient is seen at a MinuteClinic or other urgent care clinics, communicating what happened at those visits to their primary provider is not as connected. Providers rely on faxes, mail and the patients themselves to remember and communicate what happened at visits with other health care providers, Choe said. The new clinical affiliation between UMHS and CVS aims to provide better continuity of care.
“Having this ability to connect through our EHR allows us to communicate more efficiently and in a timely fashion without having to burden the patient,” Choe said.
The system will also provide aggregate data on interventions conducted by CVS pharmacists to UHS to improve a patient’s adherence to their medication.
CVS Spokeswoman Christina Beckerman emphasized that the new association will benefit both providers and patients.
“This relationship offers a new access point and improves care coordination and medication management, which are critical to a patient’s health,” Beckerman said. “UMHS and CVS want to ensure that our patients receive and have access to the best possible care and that means that care is coordinated, no matter where it is delivered”.