Interoperability technology has the potential to change the future of pharmacy.
In 2012, the Community Pharmacy Foundation (CPF) and the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) began an organizational collaboration with the goal of increasing representation of independent community pharmacists within NCPDP membership and forums.1
The CPF is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing community pharmacy practice and patient care delivery. NCPDP is a not-for-profit, ANSI-accredited Standards Development Organization (SDO) that relies on its collaborative, consensus-building process to develop national standards for real-time, electronic exchange of health care information, and creation of best practices for patient safety.2
Historically, NCPDP membership among independent community pharmacist-owners was underrepresented. Reasons for the lower involvement may be explained in part by independent pharmacist owners’ day-to-day pharmacy operations obligations making their time and resources scarce compared to other community pharmacists.3 Also, pharmacy owners may have difficulty affording the extra expense of covering their shifts within the pharmacy to actively participate in NCPDP.
Further, although NCPDP has a very large impact on the daily workflow of pharmacies, many community pharmacists are unaware of its existence and the benefits of having direct participation within the organization. Therefore, to help address this gap, the CPF approved grant funding to facilitate the active participation of independent community pharmacist stakeholders.3
A core group of community pharmacists identified by the National Community Pharmacy Association (NCPA) began participating as NCPDP members in 2013.3 The new members were invited to serve on committees and work groups where the standards development process occurs.
Work Groups include areas such as telecommunication, product identification, government programs, professional pharmacy services, ePrescribing and related transactions, and long-term post-acute care.3 Participants have diverse backgrounds and represent various geographic areas across the United States.
Christian Tadrus, PharmD, RPh, is an independent community pharmacist-owner selected to participate as part of the CPF/NCPDP collaboration. Tadrus has had the opportunity to participate in multiple areas of NCPDP since 2013.
He has been a Consensus Group member, Educational Programs Advisory Group member, Bylaws Committee member, and NCPDP SCRIPT Standard Version 10.6 Certification Program Reviewer. He also served on the board of trustees (BOT) and served as the vice chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. The BOT members establish strategic direction, provide fiduciary oversight, and serve as ambassadors of NCPDP.2
As part of his role, Tadrus participated in NCPDP’s development of NCPDP’s Standards-based Facilitator Model. The Facilitator Model leverages existing bidirectional, interoperable industry standards that are widely used nationwide by prescribers and dispensers today.
The Facilitator Model supports state efforts to more effectively address public health crises, such as the opioid epidemic and COVID-19 through real-time and bi-directional communication within provider workflow. Tadrus sees one of the most significant developments for pharmacy has been in the creation of a pharmacy-centric, interoperable tool for patient care planning called the Pharmacist eCare Plan (ecareplaninitiative.com).4 The Pharmacist eCare Plan helps track chronic care activities and/or interventional activities in a standardized way to help better contribute to the patient’s care plan.
Furthermore, the eCare plan provides a way outside an integrated healthcare system for the pharmacy team to receive information and interact with the rest of the care team. It also supports value-based care models and the billing structure needed for the pharmacy to be paid for its services. CPF was a major supporter of this strategic initiative and is also one of the primary adopters of this technology in the real-world setting.
Tadrus states that this interoperability technology has the potential to change the future of pharmacy and is grateful for the collaboration between NCPDP and CPF to help facilitate some of these programs and give independent community pharmacists a greater voice.