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We’re ready for the new National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) upgrade. When is it coming? How will it impact your business? How are we helping you prepare? I sat down with Larry King, our director of product safety and performance, to get his perspective.

Our conversation below has been edited for length and clarity.

Dragert: How would you describe the new standards—NCPDP SCRIPT Standard Version 2023011, Real-Time Prescription Benefit v13, and Formulary and Benefit v60—in plain English?

King: These are upgrades to enhance the e-prescribing process and related functions that include formulary and benefits. The largest development effort will involve Formulary and Benefit v60, which will primarily impact our E-Prescribing, Formulary and Real-Time Prescription Benefit solutions.

Dragert: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the final rules on June 13. How have we geared up to be ready?

King: The final rules have been issued, and our customers should start to see the benefits immediately. Our goal is to upgrade customers as quickly as possible.

Dragert: To get our customers ready for the NCPDP upgrade, and to keep the Surescripts Network Alliance informed, we’ve been doing one webinar a month in 2024. What should people expect from these webinars?

King: Right now, we’re focused on the e-prescribing part of the upgrade (although our webinars have also covered testing process improvements). We look at business rules and certification requirements. We look at the key features and benefits of the new standard. We look at additions and modifications. Then we poll our customers for their plans and concerns, and to tell us how they want Surescripts to play a role.

Customers can view past webinars and sign up for future webinars here.

Dragert: Can you explain how we’re making the upgrade process easier?

King: By making upgrades iterative, like other software updates, so they won’t feel like such a massive project. It comes down to smaller, more frequent updates, which ensures continuous improvement without having to wait five or 10 years between upgrades.

And we’re making a significant investment in our testing and certification tools for this upgrade, with a user-friendly, self-driving Certification Tester that will be made available to our customers. We want to give customers the ability to test asynchronously.

Dragert: What’s an example or two of a specific benefit or functionality in the upgrade?

King: One example is additional support for the RxTransfer transaction, which enables pharmacy-to-pharmacy movement of prescriptions. Another example is boosting the ability of prescribers and pharmacies to communicate the status of prescription renewals with the use of a recall service (and pending status on the renewal request).

Dragert: Finally, what’s the ultimate benefit of upgrading in your view?

King: The ultimate benefit is having modern technology that meets the needs of providers and the patients they care for.

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