SOURCE: Surescripts

February 13, 2006 08:00 ET

U.S. Pharmacies to Make Secure Medication History Available to Consumers and Physicians

SureScripts® Expands Service to Support President Bush's Call for All Americans to Have Electronic Health Records

75 Percent of Americans Feel Physicians Would Provide Better Care With a More Comprehensive Medication Record

SAN DIEGO, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 13, 2006 -- HIMSS Conference -- Executives from U.S. pharmacy chains and owners of independent pharmacies from across the nation today joined with SureScripts to announce the country's most significant effort to date to provide physicians and consumers with medication history for electronic health records while protecting patient privacy.

SureScripts, the nation's largest network provider of electronic prescribing services, will provide physicians with medication history from community pharmacies. In addition, over the course of 2006, SureScripts will collaborate with those same physicians and pharmacists on a regionally based initiative to make medication history available to patients. The new service will feature technology and best practices from leading experts in privacy and security.

For physicians, SureScripts will provide a single view of a patient's medication history across all prescribers. The service is enabled by SureScripts' unique ability to connect to and pool data from the nation's community pharmacies, regardless of retail brand or physical location, and present that data to physicians through software from a SureScripts Certified Solutions Provider™ (see http://www.surescripts.com/get-practice-connected.htm). And because this is data provided by pharmacies, physicians will now have access to more detailed, clinical information on a patient's current and past medications.

For example, a patient's pharmacy record includes a more consistent view of the instructions that accompany prescriptions (known as "SIG" information). Pharmacists also capture data related to allergies and the dates on which medications are dispensed. The end result combines pharmacy data with medication data from existing sources to provide physicians a more complete, timely and clinically sound view of a patient's medication history.

"Working together, physicians and pharmacists have always had an enormous impact on the delivery of safe, effective healthcare in communities across the country," said William G. Plested, III, MD, president-elect of the American Medical Association. "This was never more evident than in the joint efforts to provide emergency care and medications to Hurricane Katrina evacuees. The experience and lessons learned underscored the importance of a more complete, timely and portable view of patient medication history. Today's announcement is a positive step in that direction."

Following a rigorous process guided by HIPAA compliance rules and state privacy laws, and the adoption of strict methods for confidentiality and authentication, consumers will be able to access their medication history from pharmacies in their community through one of many personal health record applications to be certified by SureScripts. By collaborating to make medication information available, physicians and pharmacists can provide a valuable service to patients in their community using personal health records .

The medication history service in combination with personal health record solutions will create a more efficient, safe and effective opportunity for patients and physicians to avoid drug-to-drug interactions and manage complex medication regimens or ongoing maintenance therapies. For parents, it can be a means of tracking a child's history of antibiotic use or helping their own parent manage chronic medications.

Today's announcement signals a giant leap forward in the utility of personal health records and the effort to fulfill the federal government's goal of 100 percent adoption among U.S. citizens by 2014.

"The nation's pharmacies have long been one of the most advanced and modernized sectors in healthcare," said Speaker Newt Gingrich, founder of the Center for Health Transformation. "Today's announcement from SureScripts, along with the chain drug stores and independent pharmacies, is a dramatic step forward in building a 21st century intelligent health system -- a system that delivers better healthcare at lower costs."

According to a recent survey of more than 1,000 American adults, the vast majority -- three in four -- feel that their physician would provide them with better care if the physician had access to their current and past medication record, including information from other doctors.

"Accurate medication histories are a critical element for personal health records and we are pleased to be collaborating with SureScripts to bring that valuable information to the iHealthRecord, the PHR service offered to consumers by tens of thousands of US physicians," said Edward Fotsch, MD, Chief Executive Officer of Medem. "The new service will make critical information available to consumers and their providers and will allow automated patient reminders and education, improving medication adherence and care management. SureScripts and Medem will integrate the new medication history service with the iHealthRecord -- putting more informed, empowered patients on the same virtual page as their physicians and pharmacists."

SureScripts is also announcing the launch of eligibility and formulary benefits services. Similar to its approach taken with medication history, SureScripts' eligibility and formulary services are designed to combine with services from other healthcare stakeholders. This approach increases the probability that a physician will receive a match to patient benefit queries. The higher the "match rate," the more "clean scripts" are sent to pharmacies. The more clean scripts sent to pharmacies, the less need for follow-up phone calls from pharmacists and prescription benefit managers (PBMs). Health plans, PBMs and other payers have expressed early enthusiasm for this new service as a means of driving efficiency and further adoption of electronic prescribing.

"The pharmacy industry and SureScripts are 30 months into an effort to reengineer and improve a prescription process that has been in place for almost 70 years," said Kevin Hutchinson, president and CEO of SureScripts. "From the start, we decided to tackle this challenge in stages. Stage one focused on improving the efficiency and safety of how medications are processed and dispensed via new prescriptions and refill requests. Today's announcement signals the start of a second phase where -- with our technology infrastructure in place -- we will raise the quality of, and bring more depth to, the exchange of clinical information between the various points of care. Success here will be measured by our ability to help patients, their physicians and their pharmacists come together and make more informed decisions that impact the overall quality of their care."

Improving the Quality of Clinical Care

Taken together, SureScripts' eligibility, formulary benefits and medication history services illustrate the next step in the SureScripts mission to improve the overall prescribing process. Moreover, today's announcement reflects SureScripts' and the overall pharmacy industry's intent to go beyond improving the safety and efficiency of dispensing medications by offering more and more innovative, information-driven services that improve the quality of clinical care.

For example, the pharmacy industry will soon announce services that address the costly and often harmful challenge of medication compliance and adherence. Industry experts estimate that up to 20 percent of all new prescriptions go unfilled and that the rate is much higher for prescription refills. Based on emerging e- prescribing standards that take advantage of the more detailed medication history resident within pharmacies, physicians and pharmacists will be able to track if and when a patient picks up a prescription. This is one of the many possible condition-specific, non-branded programs that pharmaceutical manufacturers and health plans are interested in funding.

"At the beginning, middle and end of each day, it's all about the patient," said Dave Bernauer, CEO of Walgreens. "Today's announcement underscores the critical role that community pharmacy and SureScripts continue to play in bringing together physicians, payers and pharmacists to better serve patients. To date, 'better' has by and large meant safer and more cost efficient. By expanding into more clinical services, SureScripts, the pharmacy industry and its partners in care are also developing newer, better ways to impact quality of care."

A 2005 survey of 2,888 physicians sheds light on what they value most from the opportunity to prescribe electronically. Their responses covered a range of clinical and administrative capabilities.

The top three clinical opportunities for e-prescribing:

--  Medication history across
    providers
--  Patient adherence
--  Identify potential drug interactions (drug, food, allergy)
    
The top three administrative opportunities for e-prescribing:
--  Prior authorizations (payer rules)
--  Reducing phone calls and faxes (clean scripts)
--  Automating renewals
    
To date, SureScripts and pharmacy leaders have focused their efforts on the two most fundamental parts of the prescribing process: new prescriptions and automating renewals. By addressing physician demand for the larger set of features and benefits, SureScripts' expanded services will continue to drive e-prescribing adoption and utilization.

These same services will also enable SureScripts to continue to build relationships with the payer community. For instance, payers must comply with the Medicare Modernization Act, which requires payers to provide medication history, as well as formulary and eligibility services, at the point of care.

The list of pharmacies participating in today's announcement includes, but is not limited to, Ahold (Giant and Stop & Shop), Albertsons (Sav-On and Osco), Brooks Eckerd, CVS, Duane Reed, Kerr Drug, Longs Drugs, Rite Aid, Safeway and Walgreens.

About SureScripts

SureScripts, the largest network provider of electronic prescribing services, is committed to building relationships within the health care community and working collaboratively with key industry stakeholders and organizations to improve the safety, efficiency and quality of health care by improving the overall prescribing process. At the core of this improvement effort is the SureScripts network, a health care infrastructure which establishes electronic communications between pharmacists and physicians and enables the two-way electronic exchange of prescription information. Today, 90 percent of all pharmacies in the United States are certified on the SureScripts network. More information about SureScripts is available at www.surescripts.com.

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