Pharmacology has continued to advance over the years to provide patients with a range of pharmaceuticals that help manage symptoms and illnesses. Even with how useful medications are, like most things, there is a flip side to drug-based therapy.
As prescription drugs become more advanced, accessible, and potent, the potential to abuse them has increased. This is why when it comes to a patients’ medication history, knowledge is power—the power to prevent overdose, death, and life-altering drug abuse.
How do medical professionals access this critical patient data? Through Electronic Health Record (EHR) software systems that integrate with Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP).
For health professionals looking to purchase or license EHR software, the ability to access a PDMP through robust integration is a top priority when considering overall EHR functionality. Functionality that helps them protect patients by allowing access to relevant patient records and data regarding prescription history.
A PDMP is an electronic database that tracks controlled substance prescriptions within a state. Before a doctor prescribes any medication considered a controlled substance, the PDMP is consulted to determine if the patient is already getting the prescriptions from another doctor.
When integrated into an EHR system, PDMPs can reliably:
Prevent “doctor shopping” —where patients receive multiple prescriptions from different doctors.
Mitigate prescription fraud and allow states to monitor substance use.
Enhance outreach to at-risk opioid users and reduce inappropriate prescribing of drugs.
PDMPs, in short, allow doctors, pharmacists, and state health departments to monitor and mitigate the illegal use and abuse of controlled substance prescription medications.
A PDMP tracks patient behaviors that point to the illegal use of prescription medications—with a focus on Schedules II through IV. Prescription history that previous pharmacists and health care providers have input into the system is made available for increased visibility and drug monitoring.
An EHR integrated with PMDP APIs, enables the exchange of said inputted data and the ability for EHR systems to cross-reference PMPD data to flag any suspicious prescription activity.
A PDMP is an important clinical and compliance tool, but it has its limitations. Among those limitations is a reported lack of interoperability with existing EHR and EMR software systems.
Physicians often report this lack of integration as a key failing of their PDMP systems, which makes the system significantly less effective. And less effective isn’t how a potentially life-saving system should be described.
The lack of integration means physicians are forced to tediously look up patient information in two separate programs. And switching between two programs, frankly, defeats the purpose of such an important software and increases the possibility of misinterpretation.
The several minutes it then takes to cross-reference manually is also time wasted. Physicians, pharmacists, and various health care providers would much rather use a system that makes their job easier. And that means software solutions that easily consolidate data and digital information.
Another current failing when it comes to PDMP is the lack of interoperability across state lines. Access to the PDMP is usually through a standalone portal. If the EHR system a health care provider uses is not properly integrated, then professionals won’t be able to access important information from other state systems.
When the purpose of software solutions is to increase information flows that enable better drug compliance and safety, systems that can’t fulfill that purpose lack considerable desirability.
It’s not hard to figure out that the most successful software systems are those that provide the capabilities that purchasers and licensees need. All while building on and rectifying the issues that are traditionally found within the systems currently on the market. Below are a few ways that PMPD database integration can be leveraged to provide better EHR software systems.
Integrated PDMPs offer the improved access and ease of use that should come with advanced software—otherwise, what’s the point?
Providing integrated systems gives prescription drug dispensers (pharmacists, physicians, and other health care providers) the improved access they need while excluding the burden of logging into multiple disparate systems. Instead of logging into the PDMP an integrated EHR automatically accesses the state PDMP and displays patient information within the EHR portal.
And since a clinician can get access to a PDMP directly through the EHR, using the PDMP doesn’t require learning a new system.
Proxy issues are a sure way to turn off existing and potential clients when it comes to your software solutions. PDMP and EHR integration will reduce those issues through API-enabled communication between systems.
When a patient schedules an appointment, an automatic query is created to pass the patient’s information from the PDMP to the EHR. The PDMP then either flags or green-lights the patient’s history with the pending prescription and transfers the status back to the EHR.
An integrated PDMP can do more than just monitor potential medication abuse. Increased interoperability enables healthcare providers to share a wealth of information between systems.
For instance, providers can check a patient’s existing medications to ensure the patient isn’t taking other drugs that could cause deadly medication interactions or adverse reactions.
With the importance of incorporating a PDMP into your EHR/EMR system made clear, it’s paramount to utilize software developers who can adhere to HIPAA regulation guidelines, as well as healthcare information transferring standards such as CCD, CCR, CCA, DICOM, SNOMED, FHIR, and HL7.
It’s additionally vital to seek developers who can use a language that all systems can understand and interpret. When it comes to PDMP, most databases use a language called Program Information Exchange (PMIX)—a unified national language that makes it easy to share data across various platforms.
And as with any system dealing with sensitive information, all PDMP and EHR systems must also follow proposed government regulative guidelines. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), in particular, has issued a call for a national interoperability standard. By following these guidelines and the above mentioned-standards, your software will potentially help save lives and avoid becoming impractical, outdated, and incompliant.
Chetu, Inc. does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of specific names for software, companies or individuals does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. All case studies and blogs are written with the full cooperation, knowledge and participation of the individuals mentioned. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.
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