ARLINGTON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As the health industry continues to grapple with COVID-19, a new Surescripts report shows that providers are increasingly leveraging technology innovations to streamline processes, share information and improve patient care. Health systems, pharmacies and health plans are adapting to this new era of “touchless healthcare,” reaching a number of major adoption and innovation milestones for electronic prescribing, prescription price transparency and electronic case reporting to public health authorities.
“For nearly twenty years, Surescripts has recognized that the digitization of health information drives significant improvements in care quality, safety and costs,” said Tom Skelton, Chief Executive Officer of Surescripts. “As the entire healthcare industry has faced incredible challenges over the past several months, the need for enhanced information sharing has triggered an acceleration of innovation and adoption that is putting these critical tools in the hands of more providers to help improve healthcare.”
Challenges facing healthcare have included the decline in ambulatory care visits and the increased use of telehealth. The Common Wealth Fund found that outpatient visits dropped nearly 60% during March, while a McKinsey survey found that 46% of consumers used telehealth services in April. In the face of significant transformation across healthcare, clinicians, payers and technology vendors from across the Surescripts Network Alliance® leveraged their collective innovation and rose to the challenge of providing care amid a global pandemic. For example:
- Transmitting prescriptions electronically became more critical than ever when patients’ healthcare locations changed or went virtual. In August, the Surescripts Network Alliance expanded to include 1 million prescribers sending e-prescriptions securely to pharmacies. This is an increase of 25,000 prescribers since December 2019.
- The rate of prescribers enabled to use E-Prescribing for Controlled Substances surpassed 50% in January 2020 and is now over 55%, according to Surescripts network data. This is positive news ahead of the requirement in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which states that prescriptions for all controlled substances covered under Medicare Part D must be transmitted electronically.
- High prescription costs have long been a threat to medication adherence and treatment success. With more than 30 million Americans claiming unemployment benefits in July, it has become even more crucial for healthcare providers to make sure their patients can afford their medications. At the same time, 300,000 prescribers were using Real-Time Prescription Benefit (a 19% increase since December 2019) to access prescription costs, coverage details and therapeutic alternatives. PBMs and health plans covering 92% of U.S. patients have contracted to provide data for the service (up from 76% in December 2019).
- Clinical Direct Messaging—which connects healthcare professionals with secure, HIPAA-compliant exchange of protected health information—is now being deployed by health systems to inform public health agencies of COVID-19 diagnoses via electronic case reporting. This innovative approach presents a much-needed alternative to the historically slow and burdensome process of manual record sharing. Between February and July, Surescripts processed more than one million electronic case reports for COVID-19 to public health agencies nationwide.
At the same time, health systems, EHR vendors and pharmacies across the country embraced new technologies to streamline the process of getting specialty medications to patients who need them and arm pharmacists with prescription price information. Prescribers and pharmacists on the front lines of the pandemic need these technologies to help process prior authorizations, deliver medications, manage drug shortages and support patients remotely—particularly those in need of specialty medications to treat chronic conditions. These new tools are helping avoid faxes, phone calls, and other administrative burdens that often contribute to delays in getting patients their treatments. Additionally, these new tools empower prescribers and pharmacists to seamlessly collaborate with patients and with each other to choose an alternative medication that is both clinically appropriate and affordable.
Download the report, Health IT Adoption & Innovation During COVID-19: 2020 Milestones, to learn more about the progress made across the Surescripts Network Alliance as they work to implement technological innovations and find new ways of securely delivering information and care at remarkable speed.
Our purpose is to serve the nation with the single most trusted and capable health information network, built to increase patient safety, lower costs and ensure quality care. Since 2001, Surescripts has led the movement to turn data into actionable intelligence and convened the Surescripts Network Alliance® to enhance prescribing, inform care decisions and advance the healthcare industry. Visit us at surescripts.com and follow us at twitter.com/surescripts.