Pharmacy-owned firm offers online prescription records
■ SureScripts expands its services by offering medication histories electronically accessible to physicians and patients.
By Tyler Chin — Posted March 13, 2006
SureScripts Systems, which operates an electronic prescribing network linking physicians and retail pharmacies around the country, announced that in the spring it will start rolling out a service that makes medication histories available to physicians. The idea is to give physicians access to data they need to avoid potential drug interactions and allergies, and track patient compliance.
Under the initiative, SureScripts will test the service in Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Tennessee, said Tammy Lewis, chief marketing officer of the Alexandria, Va.-based firm, which is owned by two retail pharmacy trade groups. By the end of 2006, the service will be available in a minimum of 10 states, she said. After the initial test with physicians, SureScripts plans to roll out the personal medication record later this year to consumers.
To access the service, physicians must use one of the more than 30 electronic prescribing or electronic medical record software systems that have been certified to work with SureScripts' network.
SureScripts hopes its personal medication record will help increase physician adoption of electronic prescribing, Lewis said, and the company will not charge physicians or companies that sell e-prescribing and EMR systems for the service.
Still, Lewis said, it's possible that vendors could charge physicians for the online medication service. So far, the roster of participating pharmacies include Ahold USA (Giant and Stop & Shop), Albertsons (Sav-On and Osco Drug), Brooks Eckerd, Duane Reade, Kerr Drug, Rite Aid Corp., Safeway Stores and Walgreen Co.
Consumers will be able to access their own medication history online using personal health record applications from third parties later this year. So far, SureScripts has reached agreements with CapMed, Newtown, Pa., and Medem, a San Francisco company partly owned by the AMA.
In a SureScripts press release, AMA President-elect William G. Plested III, MD, said the medication history service represents a positive step for patient safety. "Working together, physicians and pharmacists have always had an enormous impact on the delivery of safe, effective health care in communities across the country," he said. "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."
Separately, SureScripts also announced that it would offer eligibility and formulary benefits services to physicians, but hasn't said when those services would be available.