E-prescribing network boosts health information business
■ Surescripts will offer tools that can be used with EMRs so that data can be exchanged among participants.
By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted Nov. 8, 2010
- WITH THIS STORY:
- » Related content
Surescripts, the national e-prescribing network, announced in October that it is opening up its network to support the exchange of all types of clinical information.
Through a partnership with technology vendor Kryptiq, headquartered in Beaverton, Ore., Surescripts will offer tools that can be used with electronic medical record systems and e-prescribing systems that will enable information to be exchanged among network participants.
Surescripts, a for-profit company founded by national pharmacy associations and large pharmacy-benefit managers, said it would make an undisclosed investment in Kryptiq. It announced the deal in late October during the annual Medical Group Management Assn. meeting in New Orleans. All the services will be compatible with the standards developed for the National Health Information Network, meaning Surescripts will operate as a piece of the NHIN.
The new services will allow the exchange of data and clinical notes among EMRs, health information exchanges, health system networks and pharmacies that are part of the Surescripts network even if they aren't on the same network.
Wes Rishel, vice president at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, an information technology research and advisory firm, said there isn't a lot of competition for this type of service. But he said he expects that to change.
Given the fact that Surescripts already has a third of all physicians on its e-prescribing network, it will have a leg up against potential competitors, Rishel, an analyst with Gartner's health care provider research practice, said.
All physicians need to do is add the clinical messaging service, the price for which has not yet been set.
But unlike other health information exchanges, the Surescripts network won't offer some capabilities that other HIEs might. The most significant is the ability to look up patient data. A physician would have to know whom the patient has seen and message the physician directly for any information, Rishel said.
Scenarios in which a patient shows up at an emergency department unable to communicate and physicians need to look up medical records to determine what's wrong are rare. But scenarios in which physicians need to send information across town are common. A network like Surescripts will satisfy those needs, he said.
Tom Landholt, MD, a family physician in Springfield, Mo., said he is expecting the network to save him a lot of time when it comes to communicating with referring doctors and pharmacists.
He has used an EMR for 15 years. Although it has helped improve communication between himself and his patients through patient portals, communication between himself and physicians in his community has been lacking, because that has relied on phone calls.
Because 99% of the doctors he refers patients to are on the Surescripts network, they will be able to send secure messages and clinical notes to one another.
He said communication with pharmacists also will improve. Pharmacists know what medications other doctors may have prescribed to his patients, he said, and they no longer will need to make several phone calls and wait for a return call if they have questions or concerns about possible interactions. Everyone will be on the same network and have the ability to send a note directly to another person.
"It's really about access and communication," he said. "Because everyone is already using Surescripts, this is going to enable -- at very, very little cost -- ongoing relationships with other people, like pharmacists, that take care of patients."
Surescripts said more than 200,000 physicians use its network, and more than 200 EMR vendors offer access to the network.
The expansion of the network will help physicians move one step closer to meeting meaningful use requirements, which are centered around the exchange and mobility of patient data. Meeting the criteria for meaningful use of an EMR will qualify physicians for Medicare or Medicaid incentive payments.
The American Medical Association is a partner with Surescripts in a separate project, ICERx.org (In Case of Emergency prescription history service), which allows physicians to get prescription history in the event of a disaster.