Surescripts Expands Medication History Service


More information could help save lives.

Surescripts has expanded the scope of its existing medication history service to long-term care and other post-acute care settings. Pharmacists, nurses and other providers in these new settings can now access complete medication histories for nearly all patients with a single click during the admissions process.

“Medication history really ties into medication reconciliation,” said Fred Martin, Vice President of Product Management and Strategy for SigmaCare, a national technology platform for home health, hospice, skilled nursing and assisted living providers. “Now our facilities can get a complete listing of medications dispensed to that patient from the retail pharmacy marketplace in real time. It ties into continuity of care documentation from the hospital to streamline the entire medication reconciliation process.”

Fred MartinThe same point-of-care medication history service has long been available to hospitals and physician offices, said Chris DiBlasi, Director of Medication History Product Lines for Surescripts. The company’s latest product extension makes real-time medication history available in almost all care settings except retail pharmacy.

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“The information infrastructure to deliver comprehensive dispensed medication information is there,” DiBlasi said. “We delivered close to two billion patient medication histories directly to provider care settings last year, but not into retail pharmacy settings. We have had discussions with different pharmacies about setting it up at the retail point of service, but it hasn’t happened yet.”

More than 770,000 people are injured or killed by adverse drug events yearly, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and more than 40% of medication errors are the result of inadequate medication reconciliation.

Chris DiBlasi

“When a patient is released from the hospital and comes to a skilled nursing facility, goes into home health or enters some other post-acute care system, that new care center has no idea what medications that patient has been on,” Martin said. He explained that this lack of information causes medication errors and huge operational inefficiencies, noting that every hospital and facility has manual methods to try to reconstruct medication history from patient or caregiver recollections, or maybe a bag of pill bottles brought from home. “Those manual methods are time intensive and not reliable. Surescripts’ product gives us the reliability we need to keep patients safe while cutting staff time to almost nothing,” Martin said.

Linking to EMR

Surescripts acts as a data integrator, querying retail pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers nationwide for dispensing data over the previous 12 months. Three of the four largest retail pharmacy providers are in the system, as are the major PBMs, giving Surescripts access to about 85% of retail scripts dispensed nationally.

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The same Surescripts system is linked to almost every electronic medical record (EMR) system currently used for inpatient, physician office, and post-acute care. During the admitting process, the EMR queries Surescripts, which collects relevant dispensing records and sends results directly to the facility and into the EMR.

“We are in the forefront of launching this and don’t have our own numbers yet on medication errors avoided,” Martin said. “What we do know is that 37% of all preventable medication errors are dosing errors.”    

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