Integrating EHRs and PDMPs: A Trend for 2017
By Connie Sinclair, RPh
The opioid epidemic will continue to be a big story in 2017 and the statistics get grimmer by the minute. We just learned from the government that more than 33,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2015, making it the deadliest year ever.
In response, states will continue to enact legislation to mandate prescribers to use the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) and will encourage making electronic health records (EHRs) more interoperable with PDMPs by integrating access into prescriber workflows. For example, Massachusetts and Ohio are subsidizing statewide projects to facilitate the integration of the state PDMP into EHR solutions used by providers. PDMP usage has been associated with fewer overdose deaths and lack of integration into prescriber workflow has been shown to be a barrier to utilization, so we anticipate more states will follow suit.
While PDMP and EHR integration is an important policy goal, making it a reality has been easier said than done. PDMPs are independent, state-run databases of controlled substance prescriptions that have been reported from pharmacy dispensers. They are operational in all states except Missouri. Because PDMP systems have evolved outside the health IT ecosystem, significant barriers to interoperability have resulted. In contrast to electronic prescribing, for example, there is not a standard method to exchange and integrate the prescription drug data available in PDMPs into EHRs.
That is changing. In 2013, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) created a pilot initiative to bring together the PDMP and health IT system communities. The goal was to standardize the data format, transport, and security protocols to exchange controlled substance history information between PDMPs and EHRs as well as pharmacy systems.
These actions are beginning to bear fruit. These pilots have recently concluded and seven of 10 participating vendors are now moving PDMP functionality into production, leveraging the pilot’s final implementation guide. Appriss has indicated that many EHRs are indeed integrating to their PDMP gateway.
It is clear that 2017 will see increased legislative movement to require EHRs to integrate with PDMPs and prescriber workflows. The ONC pilots have shown a technical path forward. Now is the time for forward-thinking EHRs to capitalize on that progress and get ahead of the legislative curve. It will create competitive advantage, serve as a tremendous value-add to prescribers, act as a proactive means to improve patient care, and potentially save lives.
Connie Sinclair, RPh is director of the Regulatory Resource Center of Point-of-Care Partners of Coral Springs, FL.