PHARMACY

Surescripts platform goes ‘beyond e-prescribing’

BY Jim Frederick

NEW ORLEANS — Moving, in its own words, “beyond e-prescribing,” paperless platform provider Surescripts has begun expanding its nationwide e-prescribing network to allow doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals to exchange all types of clinical information.

The move, Surescripts said, will improve patient outcomes, boost an integrated and more collaborative model for patient care, lower costs and accelerate the digital transformation of the nation’s healthcare system by enabling the electronic exchange of all types of clinical information. Broadening its communications platform will “enable U.S. doctors to share all types of health information,” according to the company.

The expansion, announced Oct. 25, is nothing less than “a new day for Surescripts and a new day for the nation’s healthcare system,” asserted Harry Totonis, the company’s president and CEO. “We are proud to support the federal government’s efforts to encourage doctors to use electronic health record systems to improve quality and safety, and to reduce the cost of care.”

Totonis said that widening the digital communications highway will make it easier for physicians—along with pharmacies, pharmacy benefit managers, health plans and health information exchanges—to send and receive protected clinical data on patients.

The system, noted the company, will provide its network participants and electronic health record partners with new, secure messaging tools through an investment by the company in Kryptiq, a technology firm specializing in data encryption.

“The move is further supported by two years worth of technology pilot work at Minute-Clinic, the pioneer and largest provider of retail medical clinics in the United States,” Surescripts announced.

To launch the new open network, Surescripts said it will extend its existing collaboration with EHR vendors and all network participants to speed the movement of clinical information “when and…where it is needed by a patient’s healthcare providers, be they a physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant or pharmacist,” said a company spokesman. “The Surescripts network will remain complementary to current EHR, [health information exchange] and health system networks by allowing them to connect to a national backbone that, in turn, can connect them with any other network.”

Totonis explained, “the services will be new, but the approach will not. Surescripts will adhere to the same set of principles that propelled e-prescribing adoption in the United States to 200,000 physicians in less than a decade: privacy, security, neutrality, physician and patient choice, transparency, collaboration and quality. We will continue to work with and enable our EHR partners.”

Totonis said the newly expanded network would be “open and neutral,” and “complementary to other healthcare networks and to local exchanges.” Surescripts, he added, will provide tools to electronic health record systems and all network participants to access the new services.

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NACDS, NCPA claim pharmacy victory after withdrawal of Medicaid program provisions

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association heralded the withdrawal of two provisions from the Medicaid program that would have had retail pharmacies selling generic drugs at a loss.

 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cut provisions that defined average manufacturer price and determined calculation of federal upper limits. The NACDS and NCPA sued CMS in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in November 2007 to obtain an injunction against the provisions, which the court granted. In response, CMS revised its definition of multiple source drugs in October 2008, though the pharmacy lobby groups amended their lawsuit to block that as well, saying it was still against the law. CMS’ new rule removes that provision as well.

 

 

In a joint statement, NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson and NCPA EVP and CEO Kathleen Jaeger heralded the decision, saying the rule would have reduced patients’ access to pharmacies by cutting reimbursements, thus forcing retail pharmacies to sell generic drugs at a loss.

 

 

“We insisted that this policy was not appropriate,” the statement read. “Separately, we also have urged that policy-makers should recognize the ability of pharmacies and pharmacists to help improve health and reduce healthcare costs. We are gratified that this sense is reflected in the pharmacy provisions of the new healthcare-reform law. The new law contains provisions ranging from dramatically reducing the [accelerated manufacturing of pharmaceutical] cuts to advancing medication therapy management, through which pharmacists can help patients take their medications correctly, which is referred to as ‘medication adherence.’”

 

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Roadside announces partnership to further ‘drive’ wellness programs

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON Two companies have formed a partnership to provide services for long-haul truck drivers.

 

Sleep HealthCenters and Roadside Medical Clinic + Lab announced a partnership Wednesday to provide sleep medicine services as part of Roadside’s driver-wellness programs.

 

 

Roadside provides medical services, such as Department of Transportation-compliant physicals, drug testing, driver-wellness programs and sleep services for professional drivers on the highway and at company terminals. Sleep HealthCenters will support Roadside’s programs by providing education, professional diagnosis and treatment support, which will be incorporated into the driver-wellness program.

 

 

“You cannot effectively screen, test and treat sleep apnea without addressing and improving drivers’ overall health condition, such as weight, [body-mass index], stress and cardiac strength,” Roadside COO Rob Scheschareg said. “By providing continuous care for drivers for sleep, fitness, health and [Department of Transportation] compliance from the terminal to the highways, Roadside Medical is able to move the needle toward better driver health.”

 

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