Quest Diagnostics is excited to present this article excerpt, reprinted with permission from Tom Skelton, Chief Executive Officer at Surescripts®.
As American healthcare faced the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the “new normal” still involved a great deal of change.
The lives and needs of the patients we serve certainly changed. Research now confirms that COVID-19 has not only caused nearly 1 million deaths in the U.S. directly, but increased deaths from many other conditions worsened by disruptions in routine and preventive care. It’s more critical than ever for healthcare professionals to know their patients’ histories and proactively monitor their health.
Roles in healthcare changed, too. Hospitals stretched their resources as COVID-19 surges filled beds. Telehealth and remote work meant that more of us did our jobs at a distance, heightening the need for fast and efficient communication channels. Pharmacies administered tests and vaccinations on top of their normal care duties.
How are American healthcare professionals and organizations responding to all this change? The Surescripts 2021 National Progress Report makes one answer clear: They’re sharing more trusted health intelligence. Here are five major trends I see in the data.
- Interoperability across healthcare is gaining even more momentum. The pandemic introduced its own new interoperability demands, making clear just how many different hands it takes to keep patients healthy. By leveraging technologies, healthcare professionals of all kinds are communicating more efficiently and accessing information more easily.
- Technology is supporting pharmacies’ central role in today’s care landscape. As pharmacists became key players in the nation’s pandemic response, they still needed to fill prescriptions quickly and safely. Network participants made that simpler with continued improvements to prescription accuracy, safety and efficiency throughout the year. Workflow improvements are helping pharmacists meet the demands of their expanded role with less administrative burden and burnout.
- Clinicians are solving for medication affordability and adherence up front. Pharmacists and prescribers are very familiar with the relationship between a prescription’s out-of-pocket cost and the patient’s ability to adhere to their therapy. With electronic health record such as Quanum Electronic Health Record that includes Surescripts Real-Time Prescription Benefit, it’s now possible to envision a world where clinicians can tell every patient how much their medication will cost and discuss any concerns up front. That removes a significant risk to adherence and helps everyone feel more confident in their course of treatment.
- Shared intelligence is simplifying specialty medication workflows. Innovation is moving quickly in the specialty medication space, and for good reason: Specialty medications now account for more than half of medicine spending in the U.S.For patients with serious or chronic conditions, a complex process can delay treatment and worsen symptoms. It takes an extraordinary amount of collaboration to bring patients these essential medications. Specialty pharmacies and hubs stand ready to assist, but only if prescribers can easily share information with them.
- E-prescribing is improving safety and efficiency for even more prescriptions. Electronic prescribing easily integrates with other technologies to help make the entire medication experience more efficient, even when additional steps such as prior authorization are required. America’s Health Insurance Plans conducted a study that found implementing electronic prior authorization reduced median wait time for a decision by more than two-thirds. E-prescriptions aren’t just more efficient—they’re safer. Standardized data elements help create prescriptions that are less likely to contain conflicting or confusing information. Additional safety gains come from reducing the risk of fraud and making it easier to spot misuse, a continuing concern amid an opioid overdose crisis aggravated by the pandemic.
Federal and state governments have both emphasized the importance of this tool for public health. A Centers for Medicare & Medicaid rule requiring that Part D providers use Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) took effect at the start of 2021. And as of 2022, three-quarters of the U.S. population lives in states with legislation permitting or requiring e-prescribing for some or all prescriptions.Looking back at the progress we’ve made on areas like EPCS as a nation, it’s inspiring to see how far we’ve come in just a few short years.
Quanum Practice Solutions from Quest Diagnostics offers a full range of products and services to support the needs of physicians and patients. Quanum Electronic Health Record is fully certified to meet CMS regulatory requirements and includes electronic prescribing functionality. Quanum ePrescribing, which includes Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances and electronic prior authorization (ePA) within the prescriber workflow, can be added for a low monthly fee. Contact us to learn more.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the views of Quest Diagnostics®, or any of its employees.