Surescripts' focus on quality is setting the standard in health information exchange by aiming to achieve 100 percent
reliability of e-prescribing - from the time a prescription is first prepared by a prescriber to the time the medication is
dispensed and at all points in between.
Beyond operating a highly reliable network, Surescripts exists to improve the overall quality of a process relied on
daily by millions of patients. What's more, that process has not changed in hundreds of years and was almost entirely
paper-based when we got started. So improving the quality of the prescribing process has always been our goal, and
we have made great strides through our work with standards, certification, network monitoring and customer support.
What is new is Surescripts' expansion of the quality program and a corresponding increase in resources.
E-prescribing goes beyond impacting the quality of individual prescriptions. It creates the means for identifying and
making improvements to the prescribing process nationwide in a way that is simply not possible with paper.
Because of e-prescribing, the U.S. now has what amounts to a national air traffic control system for prescriptions.
This is made possible by a nationwide network for e-prescribing that can, in effect, monitor quality in a way that's
never been done before. In a paper prescribing world, you cannot and therefore do not know when something goes
wrong until months or years later, when a researcher takes the time to gather and study data in order to estimate, for
example, just how many adverse drug events occur each year. And while this type of research is important, it is too
slow to be actionable. The goal is to shrink the time between when a problem is identified and when it is solved. In
the paper world, most problems are never even identified, much less solved - in a timely manner. With e-prescribing,
we now have the opportunity to identify and solve more problems and to shrink the time it takes to do both. To put
it another way - e-prescribing creates a manageable system of providing patients with the prescriptions they need.
Problems can be identified and fixed. With paper prescriptions, phone calls and faxes - there is no manageable
system and, therefore, it is hard to determine what gets solved and what gets fixed.
We are spending the majority of our time defining, measuring and analyzing the safety, accuracy and completeness
of the electronic prescriptions that flow through our network. From the patient encounter to their actual receipt
of medications, we are looking at the process end to end, identifying where the process works well and where
improvements are needed.
We are then acting to improve the process. This includes reporting to the sender and/or the receiver on any issues
we find. We then work with the participants involved to understand and fix the root cause of the issues and to control
and avoid them moving forward. We have seen good cooperation and a willingness to correct issues, which is greatly
An additional and very important goal is to ensure that all of Surescripts' internal processes and procedures are of the
highest quality and value to all constituents. As our efforts to measure and analyze quality continue to expand and
evolve, we are able to provide more and more critical information and feedback to software vendors. Collaboration
and communication are essential to realizing continuous improvements in the quality of prescribing process.