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Avera taps pharmacogenomics to help providers choose the right medicine

The system's pharmacy team conducts a targeted gene panel for medication metabolism for psychiatry, pain and oncology, among other conditions.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Avera Health, an integrated system in the Midwest, uses pharmacogenomics to allow providers to pick the right medication for a specific patient, and delivers the information to the clinical point of care through a ready-to-use format in the EHR.

Avera employes this pharmacist-driven interpretation to provide better care for patients being treated for a wide range of conditions including pain, cardiovascular disease and behavioral health issues.

The organization has seen success in increased numbers for improved medication regimens and quality of life with its pharmacogenomics, or PGx program, said Krista Bohlen, director of Personalized Pharmaceutical Medicine at Avera.

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A medication's adverse effects plague virtually every healthcare organization and provider in the country, impacting patients' wellbeing, delaying favorable outcomes and elevating cost through inefficient care.

The process starts when a provider decides a patient is having difficulty with a medication.

Avera's pharmacy team runs a targeted gene panel for medication metabolism, looking at the medications used. It tests drugs prescribed by psychiatry practices, such as for schizophrenia and  tests medications for pain, beta blockers and statins for cholesterol, among others.

Another arm of the organization tests oncology medications.

"If a patient is depressed, we want to get to the root cause," said Bohlen, a pharmacist by training who has a doctorate in Pharmacy. When this is addressed, "They are more able to take care of themselves for other conditions such as diabetes."

Bohlen will offer insight in the HIMSS19 session, "Augment healthcare decisions with pharmacogenomics," from 1:30-2:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12 in room W207C.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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