The Center for Improving Medication Management Q&A
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE CENTER?
The Center will establish project specific priorities that will further demonstrate the value of pharmacy interoperability with both patients and physicians for the purpose of improving the medication management process. The aspects of the medication management process that will be of major focus are a) best practices as it relates to processing prescriptions electronically and b) improving patient compliance with physician medication orders by utilizing electronic communications between the patient, pharmacist, and physician.
The Center will educate clinicians and their staff on the best approaches to implementing prescribing technology and integrating it with the day-to-day workflow. The Center will implement programs that accelerate the automation of the prescribing process. Core to automating the prescribing process is the adoption and use electronic prescribing technologies with physician-pharmacy interoperability as well as the testing of innovative approaches to improve patient compliance with prescribed medications. Targeted research projects overseen by The Center will evaluate and establish best practices in support of these purposes.
WHO IS INVOLVED IN “THE CENTER” AND WHAT ROLE IS EACH ORGANIZATION PLAYING?
The Center was first envisioned by SureScripts and created in collaboration with a diverse set of organizations, each with a significant stake in improving the safety and efficiency of medication management for patients. The “co-founders” include the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), Humana, Intel, and the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). SureScripts was founded by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).
Each co-founder holds a seat on The Center’s Board of Directors. These organizations will provide staff resources and expertise to The Center and The Center’s projects. The Board will meet regularly to establish the strategic priorities of The Center, evaluate and approve new projects, track progress on existing projects and research and plan future initiatives.
WHAT ROLE DID THE PHARMACY INDUSTRY PLAY IN THIS EFFORT?
Through SureScripts, the pharmacy industry has played a leading role in the strategic development of The Center. By collaborating with leading provider organizations, payers and employers, The Center extends the pharmacy industry’s leadership in continuing to find unique and creative ways to improve the overall safety, quality, and efficiency of the patient medication management process.
NACDS and NCPA created SureScripts in 2001 to improve the safety and efficiency of the prescribing process and to enable the electronic exchange of prescription information. Since then, the pharmacy industry has invested millions of dollars in upgrading their hardware and software and developing the Surescripts network, the network service operated by SureScripts and which facilitates the electronic transmission of prescription information between pharmacists, physicians and the patients they mutually serve.
WHAT RESEARCH DOES THE CENTER PLAN TO CONDUCT?
The Center’s initial research will focus on testing innovative approaches to using pharmacy interoperability to drive improved patient compliance with prescribed medications, patient safety improvement opportunities related to optimal deployment and use of prescribing technologies, and the habits and workflow characteristics of highly effective physician practices engaged in e-prescribing.
The Board of The Center will determine the specific projects to be undertaken. Examples of possible research projects include (1) evaluating how prescribers use patient medication history during the prescribing process, how it impacts their prescribing decision, and what can be done to improve the value of patient medication history; (2) studying how patient medication history can be used to improve the value of drug-drug and drug-allergy alerts during the prescribing process; (3) breaking down all aspects of practice workflow when a connected EMR is in place to determine the optimal deployment and use of the technology as it relates to prescribing and medication management; and (4) evaluating how alternative approaches to e-prescribing/EMR, PHR, personalized patient education and messaging systems can lead to improved compliance with prescribed medications; and (5) identifying potential errors that may be inadvertently introduced because of the use of e-prescribing/EMRs and determine how to mitigate against those risks.
Initial discussions are underway with RAND Corporation to develop a project that would demonstrate how certain features of e-prescribing technologies impact medication safety, medication use, and labor costs for the practices involved.
WHAT ELSE WILL THE CENTER DO?
The Center will gather and disseminate best practices for the deployment of technologies that support the automation of the prescribing process (e-prescribing and EMR applications), physician-pharmacy interoperability, and medication management. The Center will educate pharmacists, physicians and the market at large on optimal approaches to implementing prescribing technology and integrating it with the day-to-day work habits of care providers and their staff. The intent is to contribute to a growing body of knowledge and best practices that ultimately will drive more effective implementation of electronic prescribing technologies with a focus on how these technologies can and should improve medication management for patients. With more effective implementation comes wider adoption, and with wider adoption comes a more automated, safe and efficient means of managing medications.
“MEDICATION MANAGEMENT” SOUNDS LIKE A WIDE-RANGING TOPIC –HOW DOES THE CENTER DEFINE IT?
Traditionally, medication management was the umbrella name given to the process and various tools that physicians and pharmacists would use to educate patients as a means of ensuring that they take their medications as prescribed. However, the advent of new technology and standards that allow for secure exchange of health information creates far more options for physicians, pharmacists, and patients to more effectively manage the use of prescription medications.
HOW DID THIS EFFORT GET STARTED?
SureScripts approached each co-founder because they have a stake in the adoption of technologies that can electronically prescribe as well as improving patient adherence and compliance with prescribed medications. SureScripts approached them to discuss their interest in creating a focused collaborative to advance the cause of technology adoption to improve the safety of prescribing and the effectiveness of medication management. The level of interest and excitement was very high around a unique approach focused on achieving action and results, not just a think tank. The result is an organization featuring the perspectives of providers, payers, employers and pharmacies which is uniquely positioned to accomplish the goals of The Center including pragmatic, action-oriented results.
HOW IS THE CENTER DIFFERENT?
The focus of The Center is unique. Its approaches to improving the safety and the effectiveness of medication management are more practical and the group of co-founders represents a diverse and complementary set of perspectives. It is not a think tank or a forum for discussion. The Center is an action-oriented group that can bring knowledge, expertise, resources, credibility and communication vehicles to bear on accelerating the adoption of technology to improve medication management, resulting in better patient outcomes and more effective management of costs.
HOW WILL THE CENTER FINANCE ITS WORK?
SureScripts is providing initial capital for The Center. The Center will accept additional funding in pursuit of opportunities and projects that support its mission and purpose. Sources for this funding will vary on a project by project basis in accordance with the priorities of The Center as defined and approved by its board of directors.
The funds for The Center are not just for research. In fact, the co-founders of The Center agree that the work of The Center will be balanced between research and programs that advance the goal of the adoption and use of information technology solutions that improve medication management for patients. Prioritizing those research projects and deployment programs will be the responsibility of The Center’s Board.
ARE OTHER ORGANIZATIONS CONTRIBUTING FUNDS OR OTHER RESOURCES?
The co-founders have each committed human resources and considerable expertise to The Center, but none were asked to write a check. This was a conscious decision based on past experience working with large organizations and witnessing the “cut the check and forget it” syndrome. The decision was made early on to secure commitments from these organizations based on strategic alignment and expertise alone. What’s more, these organizations offer as much if not more value in their participation and ability to help disseminate the results of the research as they do in paying for the research.
The Center has not precluded any funding source for specific projects, even from unrelated third parties. The Center’s Board will look at it on a case by case basis, considering goals, objectivity, neutrality, etc. To be clear, funding is separate from a seat on the Board, and the Board has final say on the direction or execution of programs and research and how they are funded.