Interoperability has been discussed for years, but a partnership between a specialty pharmacy solutions company and UVA Health shows how the ability to "talk to" electronic health records is finally happening.
A recent announcement from Therigy, a provider of specialty pharmacy management software, and UVA Health Specialty Pharmacy, affiliated with the health system of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, highlights the potential benefits of electronic health record (EHR) integration, as the drive toward interoperability picks up speed.
On February 3, Therigy announced it had completed a series of application programming interface (API) exchanges and other tests to allow real-time, bidirectional sharing of UVA’s patient data between the health system’s EHR and the special pharmacy management system, TherigySTM. UVA Health Specialty Pharmacy was already a user of the management system, which helps track patient medication adherence and provides pharmacists with clinical information on therapies across 24 specialty areas, such as oncology, multiple sclerosis, or hemophilia.
For example, if a cancer patient is taking a new medication known to cause side effects such as diarrhea, the pharmacist will be prompted to check in on the patient. If the patient’s side effects become unmanageable, the pharmacist can ask the patient’s oncologist to prescribe a reduced dose, while still keeping the patient out the emergency room.
The platform performs a host of clinical functions, such as medication reconciliation, or tracking of comorbidities or problems with medication. It also can collect data for patient quality-of-life questionnaires that payers, including CMS, are increasingly demanding from health systems, such as ARMS-7 and PROMIS-10. Disease-specific assessments, such as RAPID-3 for rheumatoid arthritis, can also be tracked.
Integrating the pharmacy data with the EHR for real-time data sharing is an important step, according to Therigy President Joe Morse. In a statement, the company said the change will improve patient safety by reducing the amount of incomplete data, increase pharmacy staff productivity, and improve communication between pharmacy staff and other providers. The company now has 8,000 subscribers and serves 1 million patients in the United States.
“Interoperability is a necessity to achieving transformational goals in healthcare,” Morse said. “Our EHR integration solution empowers UVA Health Specialty Pharmacy to streamline their operational workflows and technologies, ultimately delivering unified data and measurable results.”
Chief Healthcare Executive™ asked Morse to respond to several questions about the Therigy-UVA Health partnership:
Chief Healthcare Executive™: For years, we’ve heard about the need for systems that could “sit on top” of the EHR to allow bidirectional communication between systems. Is TherigySTM that system? Does it work with Cerner as well as Epic?
Morse: The TherigySTM EHR integration will allow bidirectional communication real-time between the EHR system and TherigySTM. Its EHR integration capability can be connected with most major EHRs including, Epic, Cerner, Allscripts, Athenahealth, NextGen, and others.
CHE: Can you describe how this integrated system aids in monitoring medication adherence?
Morse: TherigySTM is a clinical platform that helps specialty pharmacies document the monitoring of their patient medication adherence, with patient assessments to prompt the screening and documentation of adherence barriers. These comprehensive patient assessments also have tools that help identify medication-related problems as well as timely follow ups and intervention activities.
CHE: Does the system identify which patients may be eligible for clinical trials?
Morse: TherigySTM does not manage clinical trial patients; however, TherigySTM is a pharmacy electronic health record that gathers critical patient clinical parameters for all FDA-approved medications data points, such as: medical conditions, therapy failure, high-risk status, comorbidities, and abnormalities that then go back into the EHR.
CHE: Does TherigySTM identify patients with clinical characteristics who may need certain screenings?
Morse: In addition to clinical parameters, TherigySTM has a drug review section within our patient assessments to screen for drug-patient precautions to identify at risk patients on certain drug therapies.
CHE: How does this technology allow coordination between the academic medical center and community providers that are part of UVA Health?
Morse: TherigySTM is a cloud-based SaaS software platform. It works for all clinicians in any setting, whether within an academic medical center, a satellite clinic or another branch location of a health system or a satellite community practices. Any clinicians within the health system can access the same platform and the patient profile at the same time from different locations.
CHE: Is the system particularly well-suited for certain areas of specialty pharmacy, such as oncology ?
Morse: Where doctors and staff have little communication in areas of specialty pharmacy such as oncology, TherigySTM has the ability to document and report on outpatient therapy goals, patient status, and outcomes.
CHE: Can the system be tailored to an individual pharmacy or clinician need?
Morse: The platform provides customized protocols for each pharmacy according to their workflow and flexible configuration for customized questions. Clinicians can individualize clinical follow up with patients and set their own schedule according to the patient monitoring plan.