I was first alerted to the release of the new book Pharmacy Informatics via a blog post by @poikonen. I took advantage of Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ to check out the chapter titles and introduction. That was enough for me, so I ordered it. I am really, really glad I did.
This textbook was created by three faculty members at the University of California, San Diego School of Pharmacy (along with area contributors) to accompany their forward-thinking pharmacy informatics course. The authors bring a lot of credibility to the text as Phil Anderson is a very well known pharmacist in drug information and informatics circles, Susan McGuiness is a pharmacy librarian who is quite active in AACP, and Phil Bourne is the pharmaceutical scientist who is one of the more clever and creative fellows I have come across.
The book basically delivers enough structure to create your own pharmacy informatics course. It begins with a concise overview and the authors’ take on the meaning of pharmacy informatics (see Figure 1.1. above). Then it sets the stage for why this specialty has developed and where it is going, touching on areas such as telepharmacy and personalized medicine. The next major section “Prerequisites” helps provide a crash course in the basics surrounding computing and controlled vocabularies then finishes with a really well-done chapter on literature and the web.
From there the book moves onto ‘Information Systems’, breaking them down into hospital and pharmacy along with highlighting the role of informatics in avoiding medication errors. This is also where a lot of the usual suspects make their first appearances – EHRs, bar coding, CPOE, smart pumps, etc. I did think that this section missed a couple of opportunities. Like many other references (and pharmacy education in general – of which I am a guilty party), it really only gave cursory attention to the community setting…despite the vast majority of pharmacists still going to that setting. Even when it did include outpatient-specific aspects, like automated drug-dispensing machines and automated kiosks, I felt it did a bit of a disservice by not exploring the potential surrounding or psychosocial impact of these types of services. This section also includes a couple of practically useful chapters on tertiary information sources and PDAs. Perhaps the most interesting chapter of this section was “Pharmacy Informatics as a Career”. While it may have been shoehorned in there, it serves as a really nice introduction to the specialty from what type of training is necessary to a pretty in-depth look at the evolution of a pharmacist with experience in different practice settings to a project leader and manager. I also liked their 25-item informatics specialist job description.
Next was a very robust section on “Decision Support”. It had a nice hat-tip to evidence based medicine as well as good coverage of classic clinical decision support and pharmacokinetics. Unfortunately, I found the chapter on data mining (which I was most looking forward to in this section) was a little lacking. The information there was superior, but I really would have liked to see additional depth, as this is such an exciting area for growth within pharmacy informatics. The book ends with some forecasting and a peek into the near future (some of which is here now). It provides a scenario that highlights possibilities for several Web 2.0 tools and approaches for information management and decision support. It also hits two of my other favorite topics in social networking and open access (more on that in a moment). The concluding chapter is a pragmatic look at where we can go and how to navigate the obstacles to get there.
Ok, back to the really cool stuff. If you aren’t familiar with Bourne’s work and experiments with open access, peer review 2.0, and alternate/enhanced venues to disseminate scholarly work – you are missing out. Don’t feel bad. I stumbled across them in a variety of ways including seeing a live presentation by JOVE co-creator Moshe Pritsker at Medicine 2.0 a couple years ago, assigning my students and residents to watch some of the PLoS 10 Simple Rules collection (e.g. getting grants, getting published, making good poster and oral presentations, etc.), and reading blog posts about interactive visual posters (i.e., postercasts, pubcasts, etc.) that are housed at www.SciVee.tv. Seriously, skip the clip of the ice skating monkey on YouTube and use those 5 minutes to go visit the 10 Simple Rules collection and SciVee!
Overall, Pharmacy Informatics is not flawless, but I found it to be as advertised or better. It is especially timely as we are in the midst of examining education, credentialing, board certification, etc. in the ASHP SAG for pharmacy informatics education. This book would serve as an excellent text for a course on pharmacy informatics and/or a great resource for a college of pharmacy looking to incorporate informatics into its curriculum.