|ASAP Breaks New Ground with PMP Connectivity Standard||| Print ||
The American Society for Automation in Pharmacy (ASAP) recently announced a Web service standard to facilitate provider connectivity with prescription-monitoring programs (PMPs). Tim Hutchison, who is concluding his two-year term as president of the organization, was the driver behind the development of this standard. Tim is also the CEO of SoftWriters. Here he talks with ComputerTalk Publisher Bill Lockwood about the purpose and design of the new standard.
CT: What led to the development of this new ASAP standard?
Hutchison: Feedback from pharmacists and other care providers told us that they would prefer to be able to get information on persons of interest from within their existing systems, rather than interrupt their workflow to log into another application, like a PMP’s website. The design of this Web service standard allows system vendors to send queries directly to the PMP and display the results to the user in a way that does not interrupt their workflow. It is our belief that this convenience will promote greater use and have a positive impact on the reduction in diversion and abuse of controlled substances.
Also, by adding the ability for alerts to be communicated from the PMP to the providers systems on a periodic basis, we have succeeded in making it more convenient, timely, and cost-effective for the PMP to alert providers when an individual reaches a state’s threshold for an alert.
CT: That’s an important goal. Explain how it can be used.
Hutchison: The standard provides for two different models that address different problems, an ad hoc model and an automated, polled model.
The ad hoc model is intended to be used at the point of care. From within the pharmacy or EHR system, a query can be sent from the provider’s system to the PMP. This query includes specifics that identify the person in question. The PMP searches their database for a match, and returns the results to the provider’s system. Optionally, the PMP can also return a “pick list” of possible matches and a weighting factor that indicates the PMP’s confidence that an individual is, indeed, the proper match. The provider, after selecting a person from the list, can immediately send a second request to obtain details on that person.
The intent of the automated, polled model is to replace the current practice of using email, fax, or regular mail to send alerts from the PMP to the care providers. Now, on a periodic basis, typically daily, the provider’s system can poll the PMP for any alerts that need to be presented. Any alerts received when the poll is sent can be presented within the pharmacy or EHR system.
CT: Why a Web service approach?
Hutchison: Web services are very popular for developing this type of API. Their self-documenting nature makes the learning curve for implementation short. Also, because there is relatively little programming required to implement a Web service, we help to ensure that the development expense required for implementation is minimized. This is critical in ensuring that this Web service will be adopted and implemented as quickly as possible.
CT: Who participated in the development?
Hutchison: A workgroup was formed for this effort. We were fortunate to have representation from all of the stakeholders in this workgroup.
Approximately 25 workgroup members represented a number of PMPs, system vendors, and pharmacy providers, including representatives from major drug chains, institutional, and independents.
CT: Anything else you would like to add?
Hutchison: Yes. In an appendix to the standard, we have included source code for example programs that demonstrate how to implement this standard. Two example programs exist. One shows how the PMP would build the Web service. The second shows how a system vendor would send a query to a Web service and handle the response. This should help facilitate the adoption of this standard. We already have strong commitments from PMPs and system vendors to do so.
This, in addition to the ASAP standard required in every state for reporting controlled substances dispensed, the Zero Report standard, and the Error Report standard, completes an entire solution for the reporting and use of this important information.
CT: Where can our readers find the new standard?
Hutchison: ASAP provides the standard on our website at www.asapnet.org, where it can be ordered by system vendors. ASAP makes this standard available to the state PMPs at no charge.