Yesterday during his presentation at an event at the Cleveland Clinic, Eli Lilly’s CEO, Sidney Taurel called on the healthcare industry to more aggressively adopt HIT and allow pharmaceutical companies to leverage the data collected in these systems to help minimize adverse drug events (ADEs).
Despite extensive tests on drugs prior to their release, via clinical trials, such trials only sample a discrete number of potential users of such medications. If pharmaceutical companies were able to tap into the potentially vast stores of information contained within providers’ data warehouses that cover tens of thousands or more patients, they may be able to more quickly identify ADEs more quickly among a population subset that was not identified during clinical trials and subsequently issue an alert.
It is interesting to note that at last week’s AHRQ event, I reported that results from recent studies on the efficacy of eRx solutions to minimize ADEs are inconclusive at best. The new CMO of Eclipsys, who was one of the presenters during this session, stated during the Q&A that the real problem with ADEs has more to do with medication side effects, something that current eRx solutions do not address.
Taurel’s request is not too dissimilar from another announcement last week wherein seven major drug companies have combined resources to form a consortium that will look at genetic markers that may be used as identifiers for specific ADEs among population subsets.
Certainly there are a host of privacy and regulatory issues to overcome that are associated with the sharing of patient data in the context that Taurel proposes. But what may prove even more difficult is getting providers to adopt HIT (particularly EMR) and put in place the workflow processes to accurately record such information in a format that can be readily aggregated, parsed and analyzed to identify those at risk of an ADE from a given medication.
Health Information Exchanges (HIE) may also play a role here. To date HIEs have struggled with creating a business model that will make them self-sustaining. Is it possible that they may be able to work with pharmaceutical companies creating basically a subscription service that will allow these companies to access HIE data to study ADEs? Personal Health Record (PHR) companies may also be able to join in on this, but the challenge for them will be to insure that the data that their customers enter into a PHR is indeed relevant. Personally, I would put more faith in what a provider is submitting, versus a consumer.
This will not be a trivial endeavor. However, with current estimates that ADEs are costing the US over $3.5B in hospital settings, $1B in long-term care settings and who knows how much in ambulatory settings, this is a big and costly problem that needs such bold actions as what Lilly’s CEO is proposing.