Keeping in line with our previous posts on the benefits of e-Prescribing software, this week we focus on the benefits of integrating e-Prescribing software with existing healthcare software programs like EHRs/EMRs (Electronic Health Record Systems and Electronic Medical Record Systems). While several options exist for integration, here we concentrate on embedding certified e-Prescribing screens.
5) Maintenance done for you
E-Prescribing requires a lot of data. One of the main reasons to use an e-Prescribing vendor is so that the EHRs don’t have to worry about the data upkeep. For example, MDToolbox provides a complete drug database that is updated monthly, a database for interactions, monographs and education materials that is also updated monthly, formulary information based on patients’ insurance plans that is updated weekly, and a pharmacy lookup that is updated nightly. See more about MDToolbox’s e-Prescribing services.
4) Additional Features through API
In addition to being able to add e-Prescribing to their product, there are often several other features available through the API that EHRs can add into their product. These don’t have to be part of just e-Prescribing, they can be added wherever fits best in the EHR (by calling the API directly from EHR screens). A few examples of some functions MDToolbox offers as part of e-Prescribing and also available to EHR screens include:
- Allergy Search
- Condition/Problem List Search
- Pharmacy Search
- Drug Research, Patient Education and Decision Support Materials
3) Meet Meaningful Use
E-Prescribing is a big part of certifying for Meaningful Use. By adding an e-Prescribing system that already meets Meaningful Use, EHRs can focus their time on meeting the rest of the qualifications. See which Meaningful Use criteria MDToolbox meets.
It can take countless development hours to design screens for e-Prescribing. In order to electronically route prescriptions to pharmacies nationwide, you must connect to a hub. The hubs have many rules and regulations that e-Prescribing screens must meet in order to connect. Surescripts® (the nation’s largest hub) has strict certification requirements and the certification process can take a lot of time. EHRs must register with Surescripts and take classes, as well as a series of tests, in order to get certified. The process can take upwards of 4 months.
An EHR will have a much faster time to market by embedding already certified screens. Adding an eRx system like MDToolbox-Rx can be done in as quick as 2 weeks. The system can be integrated and tested in one week and the next week a quick call (20 min or less) with Surescripts completes the process to go live.
Obviously, less time spent on development equals money saved. As mentioned above, in order to e-Prescribe, a lot of data is needed. The cost to acquire and maintain this data can also be quite large and on-going.
- Databases – MDToolbox maintains over 200 Gigabytes worth of data that needs to be continually updated from many sources. As an example, according to the FDA1, 5 new drug products were approved in October alone. It is not only important to keep data updated to have the latest information available to prescribers, it is mandated to maintain status on the e-Prescribing Network. In order to be certified through Surescripts, you must obtain approved vendor provided databases and update them regularly.
- Federal, State and Hub Requirements and Regulations - The regulations are continually being updated and new rules put in place which requires constant product and coding updates. E-Prescribing vendors keep up with the regulations and product updates, so EHRs who have integrated with them don’t have to worry about it. These regulations include DEA rules and individual state rules. For example, recently the State of New York passed the “I-STOP” Laws to help the state fight prescription drug abuse. According to a posting at nysenate.gov2, the new laws mandate medication history lookups for controlled substances, mandate ALL prescriptions be e-Sent by March 27, 2015, and updates the controlled substance schedules of many drugs to safer levels.
In addition to the lower development and data costs, EHRs can also save big on certification costs.
- Surescripts® Certifications - The Surescripts certification process not only takes time, it is an additional expense. Thousands of dollars can be saved by embedding an e-Prescribing system that is already certified. As Surescripts® (or other hubs) come out with new rules, changes, and updates, additional product certifications for the e-Prescribing system are required. The process is an ongoing expense.
- EPCS Certification/Audits - If EHRs want to be able to electronically prescribe controlled substances, they must also go through a full DEA 1311 audit. This can cost upwards of $15,000 dollars. However, if an EHR adds an e-Prescribing system that has already been through the full audit, such as MDToolbox-Rx, this eliminates or greatly reduces the size and price of the audit (depending on type of integration). Additionally, the DEA mandates that the audit be re-preformed every two years and re-audited any time the product is changed, equaling more ongoing costs.
Some EHRs may think the ability to create their own screens to match their system outweighs the above benefits. However, a few e-Prescribing vendors allow customization with their screen integrations to allow for a seamless workflow. Such things like the screen colors and fonts can be matched to the EHR's theme. MDToolbox even allows private labeling, so an EHR can add e-Prescribing screens that completely match their current interface and their end users will have no idea that they used an e-Prescribing vendor. So, we pose the question – With the many benefits of using already certified screens AND the ability to customize those screens, why would anyone want to go through the hard work of building and maintaining their own e-Prescribing system?
- “New Drugs at FDA: CDER’s New Molecular Entities and New Therapeutic Biological Products of 2013.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Last Updated November 5, 2013. http://www.fda.gov/drugs/developmentapprovalprocess/druginnovation/default.htm
- Montgomery, Velmanette. “New I-STOP Law To Help State Fight Prescription Drug Abuse.” New York State Senate, September 6th, 2012 http://www.nysenate.gov/press-release/new-i-stop-law-help-state-fight-prescription-drug-abuse