By Marie Mendenhall

REGINA — Saskatchewan pharmacists will begin surfing the Internet this winter, with their new on-line adjudication system.

The province’s drug plan branch and CGI Information Systems have begun to develop an Internet-based interface to be phased into all pharmacies from January to November, 1999. It will replace Taltek, the current on-line, real-time adjudication system, which was considered state-of-the-art when implemented in 1989.

However, the Taltek system is not year 2000 compliant and parts are no longer available to fix the units that transmit and adjudicate data, says Dean Bradley, member services coordinator for the Saskatchewan Pharmaceutical Association. To run the new system, pharmacies will need an appropriate modem, a web browser and virus protection.

The new pharmacy system will be accessible 24 hours a day and will be faster than Taltek, says Peter Suwala, a spokesperson for the drug plan branch. “We wouldn’t accept slower,” he says.

Like Taltek, the new system will flag duplicate claims to catch double-doctoring. It could track potential drug interactions in future, but including over-the-counter drugs would require legislative changes, says Suwala.

Pharmacists will be able to communicate with Saskatchewan’s drug plan representatives via e-mail, as well as access any on-line drug resources and other medical information. They may be able to download information such as the province’s formulary and prescription payment details.

The new system will also be compatible with the proposed Saskatchewan Health Information Network (SHIN), which will computerize all provincial health records over the next two years.

Pharmacy software vendors should begin receiving details about the new system this month. Testing is expected to begin in November.

The cost to pharmacists will depend on their vendor’s adaptation requirements, as well as any required computer upgrades, says Suwala.