HIMSS 2006: SureScripts to Provide Medication History Data

SAN DIEGO -- Electronic prescribing network SureScripts and major pharmacy chains across the country are joining to provide physicians in selected areas of the country with patient-specific medication history data for personal and electronic health records.

SureScripts will collect medication and allergy data from multiple pharmacies, including where and when drugs are dispensed, and cross-reference the information with payer-provided pharmacy claims to build patient history records, the Alexandria, Va.-based company said here Monday. SureScripts also has begun offering real-time eligibility and formulary checking for physicians with e-prescribing technology. There is no charge to physicians to access patient histories.

SureScripts, a venture of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association, is focusing the program on geographic areas with high levels of interaction between physicians and the SureScripts network. "If they're only getting a match 30 percent of the time, they're not going to use it," says company president and chief executive Kevin Hutchinson.

Hutchinson is a member of the American Health Information Community's workgroup on consumer empowerment. Eliminating redundant history taking is among the workgroup's goals. "Let's put in the medication history for the patients as well," he says.

The program will begin in April with a 90-day test in three unspecified markets, then SureScripts will add seven more markets after June so that there is "full production" of history records in 10 regions by the end of the year, Hutchinson says.

Medem, an online communications portal created by medical specialty societies, will be adding the information to its personal health records service.

SureScripts tested the idea under fire last fall, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, by building medication histories from pharmacy records and claims for the KatrinaHealth.org Web site. (See http://www.health-itworld.com/newsletters/2005/09/20/15501?page%3aint=-1.)

Hutchinson says that the planning process for the new service actually started a year ago, and there was no master patient index in place when Katrina hit in August. SureScripts has since built an MPI to connect to the various information repositories of pharmacies across the country.

Scott Lesher, executive vice president of e-prescribing vendor Allscripts, calls the initiative "just another way of getting information into physicians' hands," though he also calls it "a positive step" because it includes not only prescriptions covered by health plans but also cash transactions at the pharmacy. Says Lesher, "You start getting the complete picture."

He adds that patients have a responsibility to complete the history because pharmacies and payers do not keep track of purchases of over-the-counter medications and herbal remedies. "There's always going to be a gap that the patient is going to have to fill," Lesher says.

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