WASHINGTON, DC – As interoperability provisions from the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act) enters its enforcement phase, pharmacy leaders within the Pharmacy HIT Collaborative (PHIT), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), and pharmacy system vendors met recently to discuss the state of pharmacy interoperability. The group detailed various challenges and needs associated with pharmacy interoperability, information sharing, and connectivity, with the goal of identifying action items and next steps, particularly for integrating and using the data that is embedded in the Pharmacists eCare Plan (PeCP) with providers’ electronic health record (EHR) systems and data exchange mechanisms used by health care payers.
The challenges identified included the inability and resistance of receiving partners (payers or providers) to incorporate native FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource) content within their systems; terminology/value set misalignment among the various standardized codes used; limitations with the United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) medication data class; and the lack of prioritization of EHR integration requests. The need to exchange electronic information in an interoperable way is a priority for health care providers like pharmacists.
“ONC has a big task in implementing the Cures Act Final Rule, particularly in its focus on pharmacy services,” said Shelly Spiro, PHIT executive director. “As things progress, we’re moving into clinical service areas with pharmacists’ involvement and have been working on with ONC. These recent meetings with ONC are a culmination of many years of work to ensure that pharmacists are at the table in support of these government efforts and have a unified voice.”
As a next step, PHIT will be working with ONC to build awareness about information sharing and the information blocking regulation, interoperability, the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA), and to ensure others on the health care team are aware that pharmacists can exchange pertinent standardized clinical medication-related data.