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Surescripts raises bar for e-prescriptions with Sentinel

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ARLINGTON, Va. — Surescripts aims to sharpen the accuracy of electronic prescribing with the launch of its new Sentinel automated e-prescription monitoring system.

Announced this week, Sentinel will boost patient safety, care quality and workflow efficiency by pinpointing areas for improvement and analyzing e-prescribing trends for better patient care, the health information network said.

Sentinel will monitor all of the 1.5 billion-plus e-scripts sent across the Surescripts network annually, while complying with applicable laws and ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of personal health information.

Tom Skelton_Surescripts CEO

Tom Skelton

Surescripts said that this year it aims to improve e-prescribing accuracy more than 20% across a range of networkwide metrics.

“Sentinel is a testament to Surescripts’ commitment to going above and beyond industry standards to improve the quality of e-prescriptions flowing across our network,” according to Tom Skelton, chief executive officer of Surescripts.

“We brought hundreds of industry leaders together to transform e-prescribing,” Skelton explained. “With more than 70% of prescriptions delivered electronically today, this comprehensive approach will have a direct impact on patient care by helping pharmacists and prescribers identify and fix inaccuracies and avoid time-consuming errors.”

Surescripts Sentinel links multiple data sources — including the Surescripts network, industrywide drug compendia, such as First Databank, and the National Library of Medicine — to yield actionable intelligence that is accurate, scalable timely and detailed. The information is used to validate data quality improvements; identify opportunities to improve process efficiency; track e-prescribing use to identify trends and patterns; and drive research, white papers and clinical information.

“Electronic prescribing helps deliver patient benefit information across care settings and helps prescribers make safer, more cost-effective care decisions,” Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer at CVS Health, said in a statement. “Sentinel will provide improved accuracy monitoring that will benefit prescribers, pharmacists and patients.”

In developing Sentinel, Surescripts said that it identified and validated 11 major pain points, based on input from hundreds of prescribers, pharmacists, technology vendors and drug compendia. These points include ensuring that prescriber intent and patient directions are clear and that standard drug descriptions match the identifiers. Next, Surescripts developed action plans to address each pain point and set quality metrics to help track progress with ongoing quality improvements.

“Sentinel will help community pharmacists streamline the electronic prescribing process to reduce callbacks and faxes,” commented DeAnn Mullins, president of National Community Pharmacists Association. “The actionable intelligence will also be helpful as our industry looks for new ways to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic.”

E-scripts improve medication safety and adherence, but the rising volume and complexity of e-prescribing means that inefficiencies and errors can have a sizable impact on the speed and accuracy of e-prescriptions, including manual handling by pharmacists, phone calls back to physicians, faxes sent back and forth, and disgruntled patients forced to wait for prescriptions to be filled, Surescripts noted.

The health information network has found that two-thirds of all data in an e-prescription is unstructured free text, and as many as 10% of e-scripts still require some type of extra manual handling, such as phone calls between pharmacists and prescribers.

“As electronic prescribing continues to gain traction, Allscripts is pleased to continue leadership in this area and work closely with Surescripts and others across the industry to further innovate and improve physician and pharmacy communication to meet the needs of physicians and patients,” stated Jay Bhattacharyya, general manager for payer and life sciences at Allscripts. “Ensuring that prescribers have access to accurate and timely prescription information is critical to their ability to deliver high-quality care and improve patient outcomes.”


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