Cracking the code: Pharmacy HIT Collaborative drafts paper on PGx coding

Pharmacogenomics (PGx) has become an important part of patient care. PGx is the name for the concept that we can “personalize” medicine and give each patient the right drug at the right dose at the right time based on their unique genetic make-up.

The Pharmacy Health Information Technology (HIT) Collaborative, of which APhA is a founding member, just finished a draft of a guidance document designed to promote the development of pharmacogenomics (PGx) coding.

The document reviews the literature surrounding the use of coding for PGx in the health care industry and highlights examples of organizations that have successfully integrated patient specific PGx information into the electronic health record (EHR). The paper also highlights the challenges with storing PGx information and identifies SNOMED CT codes that are available to document pharmacists’ involvement with PGx interventions.

The document also suggests potential contributions that pharmacists can make to promote the development of PGx coding including integrating PGx information into the Electronic Health Record and designing PGx-based clinical support tools to optimize medications for patients.

I am so proud of our volunteers’ ability to produce this type of useful work for the industry. The paper, Environmental Scan of Pharmacogenomics Coding: Current Practice and Barriers, took almost 2 years to complete.

Lead author Ann Schwemm, PharmD, who is now a pharmacist in the Hematology Oncology Department at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance at the University of Washington Medical Center, started working on the paper when she was a resident.

Author David R. Bright, Associate Professor of Pharmacy at Ferris State University College of Pharmacy noted that he was very pleased with the paper: “My area of research has been pharmacogenomics for the last several years and strongly support it as what I believe to be a very useful tool for discussing the coding needs for pharmacogenomics.” 

APhA is reviewing the draft and will provide comments to the Pharmacy HIT Collaborative prior to publication.

To read more about PGx and reducing drug interactions, visit