Ohio a hub for prescription monitoring

December 15, 2010

The first interstate electronic exchanges of real patient information should begin shortly in Ohio, at what is expected to become a national hub that will enable information related to prescription drug monitoring to flow across state lines.

The first interstate electronic exchanges of real patient information should begin shortly in Ohio, at what is expected to become a national hub that will enable information related to prescription drug monitoring to flow across state lines.

Thirty-four states have prescription drug monitoring programs [PDMPs], statewide databases for tracking records of dispensed controlled substances and a few other drugs. Ten other states have provisions authorizing the databases, according to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws.

Now a program housed at the Ohio Board of Pharmacy and supported by the U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to inaugurate a pilot program that will allow a few prescribers in Ohio to obtain patients’ prescription information from Kentucky and vice versa. It is expected that later the exchange will be opened to all prescribers registered with the program in each state.

“We are hoping to get this rolled out so that by this time next year there will be quite a few states participating,” said Danna Droz, RPh, JD, administrator of the Ohio prescription drug monitoring program. There is already interest from other states, including Indiana and Michigan, she said.

In this current pilot, Droz said, prescribers will be able to submit information requests to their home prescription monitoring program, but they will be able to indicate they want the information from both states. The PDMPs will send electronic messages to each other and then provide the information to the requesting physician, according to Droz.

Participation rate

Currently in Ohio about 20% of prescribers are signed up to use the system. The prescribers include physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, veterinarians, podiatrists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

Prior to this point, she said, prescribers in Ohio, for example, could register for the other state’s program, but they would have to make individual queries to each state.

This linkage of the PDMP systems, noted Droz, will not put any further data-entry burden on pharmacists since the information is already gathered from dispensing information.

Asked why states are not just using the Surescripts system to allow prescribers to see this type of prescribing history, Droz said that system has no authority to require pharmacists to send them information. In addition, she said Surescripts officials said they do not retain information and that it is a pass-through system.

“There would have to be a lot of changes for that to happen,” she said.

In other action in the movement toward a national exchange for PDMPs, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation H.R. 5710, which would continue a grant program that helps fund the state PDMPs, but it would also require the states receiving the grants to set timelines for interoperability with adjacent states.

In addition, the Council of State Governments is finishing a suggested “compact” designed for passage by individual state legislatures starting in 2011, to allow sharing of PDMP data across state lines.

Among other things the compact would spell out who has the authority to view prescription data and how it can be used. It also has a section on technology and security.

Crady deGolian, senior policy analyst with CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts, said that the compact makes it clear that the disclosing state retains rights to the data and that the data won’t be used for tracking or reporting purposes.

States can use memoranda of understanding to agree to exchange data, as Kentucky and Ohio have done.

However, “our membership, consisting of primarily state legislators, encouraged us to figure out if an interstate compact would provide an appropriate mechanism to begin allowing states to share information on an interstate basis,” deGolian said.