Rx Open: An Asset for All in Times of Emergency
As an envoy between-on-the-ground responders, the private sector, and federal agencies, Healthcare Ready utilizes many tools and resources to gather and communicate information effectively. We originally created Rx Open in 2008 as a resource to assist in this communication, sharing the location and status of every pharmacy across the US. Since then, Rx Open has been used for dozens of events, with the activation in response to COVID-19 being the longest continuous activation in the tool’s history.
Improving Rx Open
In recent years, we’ve worked to make Rx Open even more accessible and user friendly. In 2018, we expanded the map coverage to all US states and territories. At the beginning of 2020, we completely refreshed Rx Open’s user interface and added new search features to make finding open pharmacies even easier. The new version of the map also lets us share the status of other facility types. This feature, plus a partnership with the Kidney Community Emergency Response Program (KCER), allowed us to add the status of dialysis centers to the map in March.
The basic features of Rx Open haven’t changed in the 2020 update. Rx Open still has two maps, presenting data by facility or by county. The ability for Rx Open to quickly show how an area is being impacted, as opposed to just individual pharmacies, makes it a useful tool for emergency response leaders. With our most recent update of Rx Open, we have created a search function on both maps. Users can now search either version of the map by address to quickly learn if their normal access to medication in impacted. By typing the address of their local pharmacy into the search bar located on the upper left-hand side of the tool, the map will instantly zoom into the requested pharmacy location.
How Rx Open is used
Rx Open is a tool for many different groups of people and organizations. It is a free resource for patients to help them ensure they have access to their medication. By providing the statuses of pharmacies in a locality, patients are able to determine if their usual pharmacy is open, and if not, what nearby pharmacies may assist them in accessing their medication. Local and State emergency leadership utilize Rx Open to assist in their response efforts, both to identify areas which require the most assistance, and to help plan the coordination and distribution of resources.
Rx Open data has been used to help analyze pharmacy functionality among areas in North Carolina and South Carolina affected by Hurricane Florence. Additionally, Rx Open’s historical data can be used by analysts to show which populations are in the most danger of a pharmacy resource desert, or to determine which sections of the counties are most consistently at risk. We hope to use the data from Rx Open to assist in the preparation for future disasters.
Healthcare Ready’s Rx Open tool is a frequently visited site as worries arise in times of crisis. By offering a clear picture of pharmacy operations – and now dialysis facilities – across the country, Rx Open is a quick and easy way to ease those fears, to show patients where they can access their medication in emergencies, and an asset to emergency leaders as they plan their response.