Prescriber and pharmacy collaboration has been a long-term goal of the healthcare industry. Healthcare professionals know communication between these two entities could have a lasting impact on patient adherence and overall patient health.
Since 2004, Surescripts has been making prescription fill data available to providers through their relationship with pharmacy software vendors. They created a database for providers that is being populated with patient information from pharmacies all over the U.S. Over the last couple of years this program has grown as an opportunity to improve community pharmacy’s impact on patient health.
However, many pharmacies are unsure of how this process works. To answer some of the most common questions, we’ve gathered information from Surescripts.
What is the purpose of the medication history database?
Making prescription fill data readily available allows providers to have a clear picture of a patient’s medication therapy at the time they are prescribing additional medications. In the acute setting it allows the provider to see all the medications the patient is taking as they begin treatment.
The medication history products that pull information from this database provide clear and accurate information to prescribers and other medical professionals while they are working with patients. They will be able to see how often patients are refilling their medications and what medications they’re taking. This gives them the full picture when prescribing other medications or, in an acute setting, administering other medications.
How is Surescripts getting patient medication history information for the database?
Surescripts has signed contracts with many of the most popular pharmacy software providers in the U.S. These pharmacy software providers have created feeds in their software programs to securely transmit data from pharmacies to Surescripts for the database.
What information is being transmitted?
The information transmitted includes:
- Medication Data
- Pharmacy information
- Patient Data
- Prescriber information
No prescription pricing information is ever transmitted or included in the database.
Also, it is worthy to note this information is not shared with any other entity. It is securely transferred to the Surescripts database and viewed by providers. This use of the data aligns with HIPAA’s definition of “treatment.”
Is Surescripts and/or the pharmacy software vendor being paid for this data? Will pharmacies be reimbursed for allowing access to their data?
It depends on how the data is being used. For providers that are using the data in conjunction with e-prescribing, there is no fee. When the data is accessed in the ER, Hospital, EMT, or LTC settings, the providers pay a small fee.
Surescripts uses this money to cover costs of maintaining the database, and they share a portion back with the pharmacy software vendor.
Your pharmacy software vendor is likely using this money to initialize and maintain the data feed. Once the database gains traction and enough money is being generated to cover the costs of the feed, the pharmacy software company may begin to disperse this money to the pharmacies responsible for supplying the data used.
Do pharmacies have to allow their patient data to be used?
While it’s general consensus that collaboration is the best method to improve patient outcomes, you do not have to share your data. Your pharmacy software provider should have a method for opting out of this program.
Once you’ve opted out all data transfer will stop.
What does the future hold?
It’s uncertain at this time what programs like this will develop into or in what direction they will push the market. Maybe one day there will be full transparency between all healthcare professionals. For now, the med history database is a step in the right direction.
We hope this article has answered many of your questions about the medication history program. If you have further questions, please reach out in the comments.