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The Solution for Specialty Pharmacy Software…and Beyond (Part 2 of 2)

By Samm Anderegg posted 07-18-2017 16:45


In our previous blog post, we covered the complexities in the specialty pharmacy software industry and how implementing standards such as SNOMED CT, RxNorm, and Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (C-CDA) can help us communicate data between disparate software systems.

 Now, we’ll discuss what’s being done to connect all of our different software systems across all providers and practice settings.

 The Pharmacy HIT Collaborative has been working with multiple stakeholders to pilot the exchange of standardized clinical and medication dispensing data between different pharmacy software vendors, providers, and payers.  The initiative is called the Pharmacist eCare Plan and you should know about it.  Phase 1 (exchange between pharmacy software) involves creating the Pharmacist eCare Plan using C-CDA, an HL7 communication standard that all Meaningful Use certified software (think EHRs) support.  HL7 is a standard development organization (SDO) that develop and maintains standard for health information exchange.

 Pharmacist eCare Plan Pilot participants will implement, test, and validate the proposed eCare Plan standard, which will then go up for ballot at both HL7 and NCPDP (the pharmacy electronic standards organization—they manage the standards that make e-prescriptions work) in late 2017.

 Once the Pharmacist eCare Plan standard is approved through HL7 and NCPDP, the profession and industry must come together to adopt and implement the requirements to share the data in the specialty pharmacy setting and beyond.

 This is where we have to act!  Just as pharmacists are advocating for Provider Status, we need to bang on our vendor’s doors and demand implementation of the Pharmacist eCare Plan and other health IT standards.  This will bring Phase 2 of the pilot to life—exchanging data between pharmacy software and EHRs.  And that, my friends, is huge…not just for specialty pharmacy, for chronic disease management and patient outcomes as a whole.

 There is more work to be done, but we are well on our way.  I’m confident that the implementation of data standards will lead to increased provider satisfaction and improved patient outcomes. Here’s some things you can do in the meantime…

 1) Engage with your IT Staff, IT Manager, Director of Pharmacy, VP, CIO, CFO, CEO, and ask this question:

 “Does [insert software or EHR system name] send Consolidated-CDA documents?  I ask, because this is the HL7 communication standard we can use to exchange clinical data (e.g. active med lists, interventions, goals) with other software systems to improve transitions of care and patient outcomes.  As you know, improving outcomes would result in higher reimbursement for us through outcomes-based payment programs like MIPS/APMs and the Readmission Reduction Program.”

 Depending on your organization, you may have the bandwidth, resources, and innovative culture needed to start implementing an advanced documentation system needed to capture discrete data for data exchange and quality outcomes reporting.

 2) Engage with standard development organization (SDOs) like HL7 and NCPDP to help create, refine, and maintain standards for data communication.

 There are also workgroups on Clinical Genomics, Clinical Decision Support, Mobile Health, and Healthcare Devices (aka IoT).

 NCPDP (National Council for Prescription Drug Programs) also has open workgroups that are free to join, you can sign up here to participate on the next call. I would recommend these task groups:

    • WG7: Specialty Pharmacy Data Exchange Sub-Task Group
    • WG10: MTM and Pharmacist Clinical Services Task Group
    • WG11: Prior Authorization Workflow-to-Transactions Task Group
    • WG11: REMS Workflow to Transaction Task Group
    • WG11: NCPDP-HL7 Pharmacist/Pharmacy Provider Functional Profile Task Group


Keep fighting the good fight and please reach out if I can help in any way!


 Samm Anderegg, Pharm.D., MS, BCPS is Chief Executive Officer at DocStation, a software platform for healthcare teams, enabling pharmacists to provide value-based patient care.  For more information, visit

Part of a blog series by SOPIT Section Advisory Group on Ambulatory Care Informatics' Workgroup on Specialty Pharmacy