With technology playing a greater and greater role in the nation's health care businesses these days, Missouri's Board of Pharmacy wants lawmakers to approve a plan that would let the board devise pilot projects, to see how well technology affects pharmacists' work.
"The board has been approached over the years, and recently, to approve different models of delivery that would include technology," Executive Director Kimberly Grinston told the Senate's Seniors, Families and Children Committee Wednesday afternoon. "However, the board strongly believes in evidence-based regulation.
"So, there may not be data or evidence to really support what the proper regulatory approach should be."
Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, is a pharmacist, and sponsors a bill that would let the board approve pilot projects to determine how some technology proposals might work.
"As you know, technology is growing in leaps and bounds," he said, including the use of bar codes in some hospitals and automatic dispensing machines in some local pharmacies.
Grinston said Sater's proposed legislation "has been used in other states, and has been used very effectively. It would allow the board to approve pilot projects, to actually gather data and evidence before formulating a regulatory approach" for the entire state.
She added: "The board believes (this) is a good way to allow innovation in Missouri, while also making sure that our regulatory approach is evidence-based and supported by data."
The pilot project approach also would allow the board to consider the impact on small business — which it must do under federal law.
Grinston said Missouri officials will look at how technology is being used in other states.
Another goal would be to "open the playing field for small businesses, instead of just taking the 'canned' approach that might work in a state like California or Florida, that really has a different pharmacy market than what we have in Missouri," Grinston said.
The board would have the flexibility to decide which pharmacies might participate in pilot projects.
And, Grinston said, the projects might have additional costs for the patients — since some would create savings in other areas of the business.
But state law still would apply, and only those businesses with licensed pharmacists would be allowed.
The Missouri Pharmacy Association supports the proposal and its plan to gather data from around the state.
No one testified against the idea.
If lawmakers approve the idea of the pilot projects, Grinston said: "We do believe this will encourage innovation in Missouri (and) protect patients while also allowing the board to look at proper data and evidence before taking a regulator position."