SureScripts to Offer Higher Level of Certification

Electronic prescribing network SureScripts will offer a second level of certification to electronic health records (EHRs) and e-prescribing software that surpass basic technical requirements and actively demonstrate interoperability and workflow advancement.

Called SureScripts GoldRx, this higher certification status is reserved for vendors that take an active role in educating and training their clients and in increasing active transmission of electronic prescriptions and related data between physicians and pharmacies, according to SureScripts president and chief executive Kevin Hutchinson. "We want to reward those vendors that have gone above and beyond the technical capabilities," Hutchinson says.

SureScripts will announce the first group of GoldRx certifications Feb. 27 at the 2007 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference in New Orleans.

The introduction of GoldRx status does not change the existing SureScripts Certified Solution designation that has been granted to more than 70 IT vendors since 2004—together serving an estimated 150,000 U.S. physicians.

"Round 1 has been completed—the technical capabilities to connect to pharmacies," says Hutchinson. However, Alexandria, Va.-based SureScripts says that the majority of the vendors' 150,000 physician-users are working with outdated versions of software that rely on fax technology to send prescriptions and cannot access real-time medication histories or patient insurance information.

SureScripts, a joint venture of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association, is meant to provide a true electronic link between prescriber and pharmacy. "Many of the existing certified vendors aren't communicating to their installed base that this capability is available," Hutchinson says.

GoldRx certification will recognize vendors that successfully push customers to upgrade to software that provides true, two-way electronic connectivity and to make sure that new clients have interoperability with pharmacies. Vendors seeking the higher status also must build specific workflow enhancements into their products and offer outstanding customer service and support.

"It's separating the companies that are really taking advantage of pharmacy interoperability," Hutchinson says. "GoldRx is really focused on vendors who are doing things well."

For example, as SureScripts adds new pharmacies to its electronic database, software companies ought to synchronize their programs to the network. "Some vendors have automatic updates. Others make practices do a lot of the work," Hutchinson explains. GoldRx products should have the former. "That takes a different commitment level from the software vendor," he says.

Still, Hutchinson says that the basic SureScripts Certified designation likely will be good enough to satisfy 2007 Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) requirements for ambulatory EHRs. The commission has announced plans to add an e-prescribing component to its certification criteria next year.

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