Pharmacies ready for NPDR as PCEHR v3 nears

Fred IT Group has released a PCEHR-enabled version of its Fred Dispense product to all of its pharmacy users that will also allow them to send dispense information through eRx to the National Prescription and Dispense Repository (NPDR), due to go live this week.

Simple Retail, which markets the Aquarius dispense software, is also ready to roll out its PCEHR-enabled version.

While the latest versions of Fred Dispense and Aquarius have been released to all users, it will be another week before the national PCEHR system and the NPDR can interact, and only those pharmacies that have registered for the PCEHR will begin to be activated to use the new functionality.

Pulse+IT understands that the new release of the PCEHR, due next week, will have a number of new functions besides the NPDR, including a child health section similar to that developed by NSW Health in its electronic Blue Book project. Pulse+IT has requested more information from NEHTA and DoHA.

Through the NPDR, consumers who have registered for the PCEHR system will be able to view a history of their prescribed and dispensed medications, which they can then share with their healthcare providers. Pharmacists will also be able to view their patient's PCEHRs – with the patient's consent – and functionality is now being added to pharmacy software to allow pharmacists to assist their clients to register for a record.

Fred IT and Simple Retail are members of NEHTA's pharmacy software vendors panel and have been working on PCEHR integration for several years. David Freemantle, general manager for enterprise solutions with Fred IT, said his company will begin switching on those pharmacies that participated in the MedView trial and have therefore received their HPI-O and HPI-I numbers, along with their NASH certificates.

“There is still a technical activation component required, which is primarily about the [security] certificates,” Mr Freemantle said. “We can't automate that. We then dial in to those 180 sites that did the MedView project and we'll activate them first. We are working with DoHA on the deployment plan to get it rolled out more broadly.”

Mr Freemantle said Fred IT rolls out updated versions of its software automatically, with a dial-in capability to manually activate the new version if required.

“Our customers are always on the same version of Fred Dispense so the PCEHR/NPDR-enabled version is now on every pharmacist's desktop,” he said.

The Medview project, which led to the development of the NPDR, involved a number of community pharmacies in the Barwon region of Victoria, south metro Brisbane, Tasmania and inner east Melbourne, as well as local GPs and Geelong Hospital.

Simple Retail also took part in the project, as did the hospital pharmacy software vendor Pharmhos, which produces the Merlin software used by Geelong Hospital.

Mr Freemantle said that for those Fred pharmacies not involved in MedView, the company will begin activating sites when they are signed up to the PCEHR, which Medicare Locals are assisting with.

“We'll be activating sites based on Medicare Locals doing the registration work and getting them set up and ready, and we'll dial in and do the technical activation,” Mr Freemantle said.

Simple Retail's development pharmacist, Jerry Perkins, said that is also Simple Retail's plan. Aquarius had passed all of the tests and the notices of connection required, and was ready to go live in production when its client sites have signed up to the PCEHR, he said.

"It's up to the Medicare Locals to get the pharmacies ready,” Mr Perkins said. “We are ready to roll it out once the Medicare Locals are happy with it. The first ones will probably be in the Medicare Local in the south Brisbane area that was involved in MedView.”

Pharmacists using Fred Dispense will also be able to register consumers for their PCEHRs, as the company has included an integrated assisted registration function. “We've got a red flag showing they don't have a PCEHR, so by clicking on that it will ask if you want to undertake the assisted registration process and up it comes,” Mr Freemantle said.

Fred's gateway to the NPDR is in the production system, but it will not be able to interact with the PCEHR until next week, when the new release of the PCEHR is available, he said.

“That is scheduled for the 13th, which is next Monday. At the moment the NPDR has got nothing to talk to. The PCEHR release three contains the pieces that integrate to the NPDR. We're ready to go as soon as the PCEHR is released, and at that point we start deploying initial sites, hopefully next week.”

Mr Perkins said he doubted there was much awareness amongst community pharmacists about what the PCEHR was and how it will work, but that he sees value in it.

“I don't think it has been particularly well marketed, which is unfortunate as I think it's a very valuable thing,” he said. “I had a country pharmacy for 15 years, a resort pharmacy, and it's just terrific for people who can't remember what their tablets are.

”Every pharmacist has patients who come in asking about these 'little white tablets' that they take. We ask what they are for and they can't remember that either, but that the doctor says I should take them.”

He said an up to date medications history would also be useful when patients are discharged from hospital.

“They get sent home at the end of the day and their medications have been changed and they don't really know what they have to take. That happens pretty much every week to every pharmacy. We really want the hospitals to get on board.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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