Surescripts Shoots for Real-Time Drug, Price Info

Through the company's EHR partners, many US physicians may access the tool in 2018.

Images: Surescripts

In 2018, many hospitals and providers will gain access to a new point-of-care feature. But, according to its creator, patients are the ones who will benefit most.

Surescripts, the blue-chip digital prescription company, announced plans this week to integrate its Real-Time Prescription Benefit solution into electronic health records (EHR) software across the United States. The technology enables healthcare providers to examine patient-centered benefit and price information when prescribing medication. What’s more, according to Surescripts, the feature displays therapeutic alternatives, allowing patients and providers to choose the right option.

The Virginia business contracted with 5 leading EHR companies to roll out the upgrade, reaching 53% of American physicians. It has also partnered with CVS Health and Express Scripts—whose customer bases represent almost two-thirds of US patients—to reap information, according to the announcement.

“Together with our partners,” Surescripts CEO Tom Skelton said in a statement, “we’re delivering value back to the network in the form of greater price transparency and a streamlined workflow—2 keys to patients getting the right drug at the right time, and at a cost that lets them start and stick with their medication therapy.”

CVS and Express Scripts test-drove the real-time prescription software over the course of a year, using it in 3.75 million transactions, according to Surescripts.

Surescripts also intends to grow the footprint of its Prior Authorization technology, which helps physicians complete the task without paper and more quickly than in the past, according to the company. So far, the software is available in EHRs that reach 75% of US physicians, Surescripts noted.

Combined with the new real-time and hallmark e-prescribing tools, the prior authorization software allows prescribers to examine how much a drug could cost a patient, taking into account their health insurance coverage, and determining the most affordable and effective option. If it requires authorization, the physician can obtain that through the EHR, according to Surescripts.

“We’re once again at the forefront of a transformational moment in healthcare,” Skelton added, praising his organization’s introduction of e-prescribing 17 years ago.

In the announcement, Surescripts highlighted its network of EHR partners. Its tools, the company claimed, “require strong cross-market” partnerships.

The company had already worked with the 5 EHR firms adopting the new real-time prescription assistant in 2018. That list includes Allscripts, Aprima, Cerner, Epic, GE, and Practice Fusion. They have experience using other Surescripts tools, like Medication History and Record Locator and Exchange, according to the company.

Tom Langan, the head of Practice Fusion, said the technologies provide the EHR vendor “both a functional and a competitive edge” over other players in the field. That advantage only stands to grow, he said.

“When it comes to choosing the best medication, we believe in giving prescribers every available advantage within our platform,” Langan said in a statement.