PHARMACY

Healtheway forms industry coalition to standardize health information exchange

BY Michael Johnsen

ORLANDO, Fla. — Healtheway on Monday announced the formation of Carequality, a new initiative dedicated to accelerating progress in health data exchange among multiplatform networks, healthcare providers, electronic health record vendors and health information exchange vendors. Carequality is an open, transparent and inclusive industry-driven effort. It will convene stakeholders and facilitate industry consensus to develop and maintain a standards-based interoperability framework that enables information exchange between and among networks.

As physicians and hospitals become more accountable for the care they provide, information needs to flow freely and securely as patients move between different care providers. While substantial progress has been made to advance this type of connectivity, existing initiatives and networks generally work independent of one another, resulting in silos of connectivity, Healtheway noted. Carequality will bring together these existing initiatives and networks and provide a standardized framework for working together.

Carequality’s goal is to facilitate agreement on a common, national-level set of requirements that will enable providers to access patient data from other groups as easily and securely as today’s bank customers connect to disparate banks and user accounts on the ATM network. Once achieved, this level of health data interoperability will represent a quantum leap in the quality of health care available and reduce the cost to support interoperability.

“The new frontier in achieving nationwide, secure health data exchange involves building upon all of the existing great work across various consortia and networks, and tying it all together into a unified approach for the industry,” said Mariann Yeager, Healtheway’s executive director. “A group of organizations — including many of those most active today in achieving nationwide interoperability — approached Healtheway about serving as the neutral convener for industry stakeholders to come together," she said. "Together they will work through implementation-level issues to enable exchange between and among networks. Today, we are presenting a call for action to participate in Carequality and join this effort.”

A rapidly growing community of healthcare providers, payers, consumer groups, IT companies and software vendors are signing up to join this effort and shape the future of interoperability in the United States.

Carequality is just beginning its activities and is open to all stakeholders who wish to participate. Healtheway is issuing a call for all interested parties to join the effort and engage in Carequality.

The group’s work will be available to all industry stakeholders, regardless of membership so that any provider group, EHR vendor or exchange network can see how Carequality participants are accelerating exchange connections by using a single, non-proprietary interoperability framework.

To date, nearly two-dozen organizations have pledged to join Carequality, Healtheway noted, including:

  • California Association of Health Information Exchanges;
  • CareEvolution;
  • Community Health Information Collaborative;
  • CVS MinuteClinic;
  • eClinicalWorks;
  • Epic;
  • Greenway Health;
  • HIElix;
  • Hyland Software;
  • ICA;
  • Intermountain Healthcare;
  • InterSystems;
  • Kaiser Permanente;
  • lifeIMAGE;
  • MDI Achieve;
  • Medfusion;
  • Medicity;
  • MedVirginia;
  • Mirth;
  • Netsmart;
  • New York eHealth Collaborative;
  • Optum;
  • Orion Health;
  • Santa Cruz Health Information Exchange;
  • Surescripts; and
  • Walgreens. 

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National Governor’s Association focuses on prescription drug abuse

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — As part of the National Governors Association’s ongoing effort to help states reduce prescription drug abuse, findings from the Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction Policy Academy were the focus of the Health and Human Services Committee session at NGA’s 2014 Winter Meeting, the association announced Sunday. 

NGA vice chair Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley have led the Prescription Drug Abuse Project since September 2012. Throughout the yearlong initiative, seven states — including Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia — have worked to develop coordinated plans to combat prescription drug abuse.

During the Winter Meeting session, “Battling an Epidemic: State Efforts to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse,” governors released an issue brief detailing lessons learned from the policy academy. 

Findings from "Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse: Lessons Learned from an NGA Policy Academy" included:

  • Leadership matters;
  • Prescribing behavior needs to change;
  • Disposal options should be convenient and cost-effective;
  • Prescription drug monitoring programs are underused;
  • Public education is critical;
  • Treatment is essential; and
  • Data, metrics and evaluation must drive policy and practice.

“The abuse of prescription drugs continues to be seen in communities across the nation,” Hickenlooper stated. “This initiative helped states develop effective strategies to help decrease the number of individuals who are misusing or abusing prescription drugs and the resulting number of people who are harmed or die.”

“When discussing efforts to fight this problem, we must remember to differentiate between those who are abusing prescription drugs and those who legitimately need these medications,” Gov. Bentley noted. 

“HDMA applauds the NGA for addressing our nation’s ongoing prescription drug abuse epidemic by convening a variety of stakeholders — including HDMA — to participate in its Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction Policy Academy," said John Gray, president and CEO of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association. "We …  agree that policymakers will need to be mindful of potential unintended consequences that may occur from adopting certain solutions, which may hamper legitimate patient access to medicines. HDMA and the nation’s primary healthcare distributors look forward to working with the NGA and others as it continues this initiative, as we work together to eradicate prescription drug abuse in the United States.”

Because this issue remains a top priority for governors, NGA announced a second round of the initiative to be led by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin.

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Myalept gets FDA approval

BY Ryan Chavis

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved Myalept (metreleptin for injection) to treat complications of leptin deficiency in patients with congenital generalized or acquired generalized lipodystrophy, which is a condition associated with a lack of fat tissue.

Patients with cogenital generalized lipodystrophy are born with little or no fat tissue, and those patients with acquired generalized lipodystrophy will generally lose fat tissue over time. Patients with both types are prone to develop severe insulin resistance at a young age, which may lead to diabetes that is difficult to manage or very high levels of triglycerides in the blood (hypertriglyceridemia) that may lead to inflammation of the pancreas.

“Myalept is the first approved therapy indicated for treating the complications associated with congenital or acquired generalized lipodystrophy and provides a needed treatment option for patients with this orphan disease,” said Mary Parks, M.D., deputy director of the Office of Drug Evaluation II in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Myalept is available only through the Myalept Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy program due to the risks associated with the development of neutralizing antibodies and lymphoma. Under the REMS program, prescribers must be certified with the program by enrolling in and completing training. Pharmacies must also be certified with REMS and only dispense the drug after receipt of the Myalept REMS Prescription Authorization Form for each new prescription.

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