PHARMACY

PQA creates three measures to help track opioid prescriptions

BY Michael Johnsen

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — The membership of the Pharmacy Quality Alliance has endorsed three new performance measures that assess the use of opioids from multiple providers or at high dosage in persons without cancer. Abuse and overdose of prescription opioids has grown to become a major public health issue in the United States. Studies have shown that people who receive high doses of opioids or prescriptions from multiple prescribers and use multiple pharmacies are more likely to die of drug overdoses. 
 
The first measure assesses populations that are receiving prescriptions for opioids at a high dose that could be inappropriate or could contribute to an adverse event. The second measure assesses populations that are receiving opioid prescriptions from multiple prescribers and multiple pharmacies, which may indicate uncoordinated care and/or doctor/pharmacy shopping. And the third measure includes criteria of both high dose opioids and also receiving prescriptions from multiple providers – which may indicate misuse, abuse or inappropriate and/or fragmented care.
 
During testing, the PQA measure rates were calculated for five plans, including one commercial, three Medicare Advantage and one stand-alone prescription drug plan. Testing revealed substantial variability across these plans, and patterns that may prove useful in designing interventions. PQA collaborated with RxAnte to test the new opioid utilization measures, utilizing data from Aetna and WellCare. 
 
"Abuse and overdose of prescription opioids is a major public health issue in the US. These measures will become important tools used in addition to other federal and state-based monitoring systems," said Woody Eisenberg, SVP PQA.
 
"Unsafe use of prescription opioids is a growing epidemic that costs the U.S. an estimated $70 billion annually and leads to nearly 100,000 avoidable ER visits each year," added Josh Benner, EVP strategy at Millennium Health. "We are pleased to collaborate with PQA, Aetna and WellCare on these new performance measures which will help to establish the foundation for addressing this important public health issue."
 
 
 
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Surescripts handled more transactions than Amex or PayPal in 2014

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. — Surescripts processed 6.5 billion health-data transactions in 2014, according to data reported in the 2014 National Progress Report released Tuesday. Signaling a major milestone in the digital transformation of health care in the United States, Surescripts handled more transactions in one year than American Express (6 billion) and PayPal (4.2 billion).
 
“Connecting the nation’s healthcare system is a monumental task, and while more work is needed to ensure true interoperability nationwide, there is no question that the Surescripts network is more connected than ever before,” said Tom Skelton, CEO Surescripts. “Healthcare is evolving and our collective ability to share health information is addressing a major pain point for providers and patients that ultimately saves time and money and improves the quality of care.”
 
At of the end of 2014, Surescripts connected 900,000 healthcare professionals, 61,000 pharmacies, 3,300 hospitals, 700 EHR software applications, 45 immunization registries and 32 state and regional networks, with access to health information for 230 million patients representing 71% of the U.S. population. 
 
In 2014, 56% of physicians and 95% of pharmacies processed 1.2 billion electronic prescriptions (67% of all new prescriptions) on the Surescripts network. But growth on the Surescripts network expanded beyond electronic prescribing to include 764 million medication history transactions and 7.4 million clinical messages. Much of the growth in the utilization of medication history data occurred in hospitals, with 44% of U.S. hospitals adopting the technology. Utilization of medication history data in acute care settings, such as hospital emergency rooms, increased 75% over 2013. 
 
Over the past three years, Surescripts has built the largest physician directory with more than 160,000 providers connected to exchange clinical messages, such as discharge and visit summaries, patient charts and referral orders. This capability helps hospitals meet regulatory requirements and improves patient outcomes. The volume of clinical messages that passed through the Surescripts network last year increased 1,300% over 2013. 
 
“Thousands of patients come through our doors each day. In order to know we are providing the best care, we need to understand their health histories and communicate with other care partners in a timely manner,” said Chuck Fennell, chief information officer, St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center. “The most efficient way to meet that goal is to communicate electronically. Surescripts’ 2014 National Progress Report proves what we at St. Joseph’s already know – that healthcare is going digital.”
 
One area where the Surescripts network can play a significant role is addressing prescription fraud and abuse nationwide, particularly the more than two million Americans who abuse prescription painkillers. By eliminating the paper prescription and connecting physicians and pharmacists electronically, there is an opportunity to improve care, reduce fraud and identify potential instances of abuse, Surescripts stated. 
 
In the report, Surescripts ranks each state on its readiness to prescribe controlled substances electronically. The ranking is based on three factors: the percent of enabled pharmacies, the percent of enabled prescribers and the percent of controlled substances prescribed electronically, in each state. 
 
Top 10 States E-Prescribing Controlled Substances:
 
  1. Nebraska;
  2. California;
  3. Michigan;
  4. Massachusetts;
  5. Delaware;
  6. Illinois;
  7. Iowa;
  8. Rhode Island;
  9. Arizona; and
  10. Minnesota. 
While e-prescribing of controlled substances increased 400% in 2014, with a total of 1.7 million controlled substance e-prescriptions nationwide, this represents a small fraction of the opportunity that exists, Surescripts suggested. Across the country, 73% of pharmacies are ready to receive electronic prescriptions for controlled substances, but the number of prescribers who are ready to send them is just 1.4%. 
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N.C.-based pharmacy streamlines workflow with RxSafe 1800

BY DSN STAFF

JOHNSON CITY, N.Y. — Innovation, makers of PharmASSIST pharmacy automation solutions, on Monday announced that Moose Pharmacy in Mt. Pleasant, N.C., has successfully implemented an RxSafe 1800 robotic storage and retrieval system. 

“The RxSafe has had an immediate impact on staff efficiency, security, and quality control. The system replaced three shelving bays, which eliminated the need to restock those shelves, and freed our staff from having to retrieve and return stock while filling prescriptions, both of which are huge time savers," said co-owner Whit Moose, R.Ph. "It also added an extra level of security for our C-II dispensing and quality control of our entire filling process, basically eliminating any opportunity for dispensing errors.”

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