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Surescripts Report Reveals 2021 Health IT Interoperability Gains

Surescripts 2021 National Progress Report revealed significant growth in the use of health IT to support healthcare interoperability.

Healthcare interoperability is gaining momentum, according to the Surescripts 2021 National Progress Report, which revealed significant increases in the use of clinical direct messaging and ePrescribing health IT.

Overall, healthcare professionals exchanged 20.4 billion secure transactions across the Surescripts network in 2021, a 16.6 percent increase from 2020.

“This year’s National Progress Report demonstrates nationwide momentum toward interoperable, digital health intelligence sharing,” Tom Skelton, Surescripts chief executive officer, said in a press release.  

“By leveraging the Surescripts network, healthcare professionals of all kinds are getting clinical intelligence at the right time, in the right place, so that they have the trusted insights they need to serve patients,” he added.

The use of Surescripts medication history health IT amongst providers in population health programs increased 53 percent from 2020 to 2021. Additionally, the use of medication history for patient intake, hospital admission, and care coordination increased 21 percent year-over-year.

The report also revealed that the use of clinical direct messaging increased 81 percent, with 143 million clinical direct messages sent and received in 2021.

When COVID-19 first hit, Surescripts mobilized to use clinical direct messaging to meet the new interoperability demands for data sharing of case reports and immunizations. Pharmacies continued to use clinical direct messaging for COVID-19 vaccination notifications in 2021, sending 16 million notifications to primary care providers over the year.

Health IT is also helping clinicians promote medication affordability, Surescripts officials noted. More than 570,000 prescribers used the vendor’s real-time prescription benefit tool to access medication pricing information 422 million times.

The tool gives providers access to patient-specific prescription drug cost and coverage information at the point of care to aid clinical decision support.

By the end of 2021, nearly half of prescribers used the real-time prescription benefit tool to access patient-specific benefit information, out-of-pocket costs, and more affordable medication alternatives.

Overall, the use of the health IT helped save patients $36.69 per prescription and $264 per specialty prescription, on average.

The solution also helped Medicare Part D health plans comply with a requirement to enable electronic transmission of eligibility, formulary, and benefit information to their members’ prescribers that went into effect January 1, 2021.

Shared clinical intelligence is helping to streamline specialty medication workflows, officials said. The number of prescribers enabled for specialty patient enrollment increased 38 percent in 2021. Additionally, specialty pharmacists used specialty medications gateway three times more than in 2020.

In 2021, Surescripts added 120 new specialty medications to its specialty patient enrollment offering, totaling 282.

Additionally, ePrescribing is improving patient safety for more medications than ever before. In 2021, the use of ePrescribing increased from 84 percent to 94 percent of all medications and 58 percent to 73 percent of controlled substance prescriptions.

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