In May, researchers writing in the British Medical Journal argued that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Though some experts quibble with their methodology, the researchers' message hasn't been lost on those running health care organizations here. The need to make patient care safer and more effective is more important than ever.

The common interest of executives across all sectors of the industry in improving both the safety and quality of patient care is reflected in the most popular blog posts on McKesson.com over the past three months of this year. The five most-read blog posts reveal that executives are attacking the challenge from a variety of angles, from product labeling to advanced technologies to behavioral counseling.

Below are summaries of the five of the most-popular blog posts over the past three months and links to the original posts:

In “Complying with New Safety Data Sheet Requirements,” Kim Collier, director of regulatory affairs for McKesson Medical-Surgical, discusses the impact on health care workplace and patient safety from a new directive from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA requires manufacturers of hazardous chemicals to provide new product safety data sheets, or SDSs, to users that explain how to properly ship, handle and store those materials. “Health care providers like hospitals and medical practices handle more hazardous chemicals that you would think,” she says. OSHA also requires users to have systems in place to file and share SDSs with employees and to comply with all the safety instructions.

In “Reaping the Benefits of Pharmacy Technology,” Emilie Ray, president of McKesson Pharmacy Technology and Services, outlines how various technology solutions can help retail pharmacies deliver better care to their patients and customers. By adopting these technologies, pharmacies can reduce the time their pharmacists and other staff members spend manually performing tasks such as counting pills and putting them in bottles, according to Ray. “Pharmacies, in turn, can direct their pharmacists and other staff members to spend their new-found time on clinical activities that improve the health and outcomes of their patients,” she says.

In “Consensus on Quality Measures Will Fuel Value-Based Reimbursement,” Jeb Dunkelberger, vice president of accountable care services and corporate partnerships for McKesson Business Performance Services, touts the benefits to care from the industry consensus on standard sets of quality measures for seven delivery models and clinical services. “A common set of measures focused on outcomes makes it easier for physicians to see how what they do affects the health of their patients and the financial performance of their practice,” he says. Dunkelberger also argues that a common set of outcomes measures will encourage more providers to participate in value-based care models.

In “Transitioning From Pharmacist to Pharmacy Owner,” McKesson profiled Adrienne Cervone, pharmacist and owner of Beaver Health Mart Pharmacy. Cervone is a prime example of the type of forward-thinking pharmacist described by Emilie Ray in her post who is using her position to bring herself closer to her patients and customers. “I much prefer being in a community pharmacy where I can develop programs and services tailored to the changing needs of my customers,” Cervone says.

In “Leveraging Patient Savings Programs to Reduce Prescription Abandonment,” Reagan Tully, vice president of strategy and marketing for McKesson Patient Relationship Solutions, connects the dots between the growth of high-deductible health plans and medication adherence. In between those end points are higher out-of-pocket costs that cause patients not to fill prescriptions. “Patients are at risk for return trips to the doctor or even hospitalization,” she says. Tully advocates for the use of various types of patient drug savings programs that mitigate the risk of financially motivated primary fill abandonment and the negative health and safety consequences that come along with it.

As the five most-read blog posts on McKesson.com over the past three months illustrate, improving the safety and effectiveness of patient care isn't the sole responsibility of hospitals, doctors and nurses. It takes every stakeholder approaching the challenge from a different perspective and using a different tactic as each industry segment recognizes that better patient care is both a clinical and business imperative.

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About the author

McKesson editorial staff is committed to offering innovative approaches and insights so that our customers can get the most out of the health care solutions they have and identify areas for operational improvement, revenue growth and improved patient satisfaction. If you have a suggestion for a blog topic you’d like to see covered, let us know in the comments.