Preparing You for New Standards and Regulations

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Once again, QS/1 is leading the way to help you make the transition from the current version of the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) SCRIPT standard to the new one as smooth as possible. Pharmacies and prescribers that transmit electronic prescriptions have a little more than a year to convert to the new version. Currently, pharmacies and prescribers that wish to prescribe electronically must transmit those e-prescriptions using the SCRIPT Standard version 10.6. On January 1, 2020, transmissions must be made using the New SCRIPT Standard version 2017071.

Earlier this year, QS/1 opted to participate in Surescripts® Early Adopter program, meaning the pharmaceutical software company will participate in testing to help ensure both the Surescripts Network and the pharmacy system are ready when the script method changes in less than 15 months.

On April 2, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the final rule that included a newer version of the electronic prescribing standard. “QS/1 is an early adopter in testing the New SCRIPT Standard,” said Lisa Fowler, senior interface analyst. “Working with Surescripts more than a year before the deadline ensures QS/1’s customers will be ahead of the curve and ready to transmit when the change occurs.”

Fields of Dreams

Often when you give us feedback, you ask for ways to convey more information about the patient and the prescriptions they take. The New SCRIPT Standard includes 500 new fields that could help improve patient care.

“Some of these fields may never be used because it depends on both sides of the Surescripts Network implementing the new fields,” said Jessica Swanger, interface analyst. “But it will be nice for prescribers and pharmacies to have the options to pass along information that could be important to a specific e-prescription. These new fields help provide more information to the pharmacy and prescriber systems to allow more communication between the two.”

Some of that information, such as patient allergies, have not been included in e-prescriptions and left to the pharmacies to collect from the patient and include on the patient profile for reference when filling prescriptions. Allergy information is just one piece of data included in the New SCRIPT Standard. While many felt that the Standard version 10.6 was geared more toward community pharmacy, the new SCRIPT adds fields and transaction types that make e-prescribing in LTC much more efficient.

“There are two new message types specifically for LTC,” Jessica said. “There is a drug administration and prescription recertification message that will come from the prescriber into QS/1. That is going to let pharmacy staff be more aware of when a prescription is suspended for a patient or recertified on the prescriber end.”

Lisa believes pharmacists are going to be excited about the new version of the standard as “it’s going to make things easier because of the amount of information they can send and receive electronically.”

Currently, if you have a question, you or your staff have to call the prescriber to request information. Speaking to someone on the first call is the exception, not the rule, and you usually have to wait for them to call back. If they had the answers immediately, that would help the process move forward, but in the real world, that rarely happens. Compounding the wait, the staff most likely has to run down the answers and call you back, again. Even if the process only takes a few minutes, time is money, and this can turn into a costly process if you have to repeat it multiple times a day.

With the New SCRIPT Standard, more information can be included on the e-prescription when it is sent to the pharmacy. If it isn’t included, you will be able to request it electronically and get back to work filling prescriptions or counseling patients.

The Urgency in Prioritization

Prioritizing prescriptions can help expedite the filling process and keep patients from waiting. One of the new fields will help you get to those prescriptions quicker.

“The urgency indicator is one of the fields I believe pharmacies are going to appreciate,” said Crystal Ratliff, vendor relations manager. “This field could help prioritize e-prescriptions and have them display at the top of the queue, letting pharmacy staff know they should be filled before others in the queue.”

This will benefit LTC pharmacies as well. For example, if a patient is discharged from a facility, the community pharmacy can be alerted that the patient is on their way. Aside from the added customer convenience, the new indicator can increase your efficiency and delight your patients, which can increase loyalty to your pharmacy.

Wave One Begins

QS/1’s participation in Wave One of Early Adopter testing means your pharmacy will have a competitive advantage before the January 1, 2020 deadline. Wave 1 testing should be complete by February 2019. The more you know, the better prepared you will be once the new standard becomes the proverbial law of the land.

“The timing is perfect for several reasons,” Jessica said. “QS/1 has to obtain certification every two years for electronic prescriptions for controlled substances (EPCS), and that’s coming up in May 2019. This is a process for which we were already prepared and folding in the change to the New SCRIPT Standard seemed like a natural progression.”

Surescripts reports that pharmacies are ahead of prescribers when it comes to EPCS. Surescripts reports that as of July 2018, 94.5% of pharmacies nationwide were EPCS-enabled. Compare that to 27.6% of prescribers who are certified to send e-prescriptions. That’s about one out of every four prescribers. While prescribers are slower to jump on board, we want to make sure you are prepared to receive and fill any type of prescription that comes your way. That is exactly why QS/1 invests the time and effort to ensure you have the resources available to compete in today’s marketplace.

What’s Next?

The deadline to begin transmitting e-prescriptions via the New SCRIPT Standard will be here before you know it. We are being proactive to ensure you are ready when the deadline arrives.

“The transition for pharmacies that work with QS/1 is going to be a breeze,” Lisa said. “The only thing they need to do is download and install the service pack that includes the new standard by January 1, 2020. From that point, e-prescriptions will be transmitted and received using the new standard.”

Though QS/1 will be ready, when dealing with governmental regulations, it’s important for us to remain flexible and expect the unexpected. “This is still a work in progress,” Crystal said. “As the deadline approaches, CMS could write waivers that might impact a few operations. It’s also possible they won’t add or adjust fields once everyone starts transmitting on the new standard.” So, as with any transition, it’s always good to pack your patience.

Once the Surescripts certification is complete, QS/1 will begin working with other vendors to complete the process. We are doing everything possible to make this transition smooth and seamless. We are also lobbying on your behalf to resolve issues we encounter during the testing process. QS/1 anticipates Service Packs 28 and 29, collectively, will contain changes to accommodate the New SCRIPT Standard.

If you have questions about the new standard or a comment you’d like to share, contact Crystal Ratliff at cratliff@qs1.com or lflowler@qs1.com.

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