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What's Clinical Direct Messaging's newest purpose? Serving as a critical link between pharmacists and primary care providers for COVID-19 immunization notifications.

What a difference a year can make. This time last year, we were focused on social distancing, COVID-19 testing and masking efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Now, with vaccination efforts well underway, COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations are reaching new lows in numerous states, with some cities even reaching herd immunity. But what's remained the same is the resourcefulness of our partners across the Surescripts Network Alliance in finding new ways to leverage existing technology, delivering information and care at remarkable speed.

Clinical Direct Messaging has enabled pharmacists to share more than 7 million COVID-19 immunization notifications to primary care providers nationwide.

Specifically, pharmacies are using Surescripts Clinical Direct Messaging to send COVID-19 immunization notifications to primary care providers nationwide – adding up to more than 7 million sent since December 2020.

This line of communication is critical because of the essential role of retail and independent pharmacies in the country's immunization efforts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 80 million doses have been administered and reported by retail pharmacies across programs in the U.S. A total of 21 retail pharmacy partners are participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination program, with more than 41,000 locations online and administering doses nationwide.

Pharmacies' innovative use of Clinical Direct Messaging allows them to send COVID-19 vaccine information to primary care providers electronically, rather than relying on archaic tools like fax machines or phone calls.

And this isn't the first time Surescripts Clinical Direct Messaging has been leveraged as a critical tool for closing the data gap in the nationwide COVID-19 response.

Manually reporting COVID-19 diagnoses is a burdensome and slow process. In an effort to streamline and speed up the process, health systems leveraged Clinical Direct Messaging for electronic case reporting to inform public health agencies of COVID-19 diagnoses nationwide. Since February 2020, 41 health systems have leveraged this tool to send more than 12 million electronic case reports for COVID-19 diagnoses to public health agencies across 64 jurisdictions nationwide.

With more than one million COVID-19 vaccine doses being administered each day, more work is needed to reduce the administrative burden on pharmacies and ensure primary care providers are notified. Pharmacies, pharmacy technology vendors and EHR vendors should contact their Surescripts Account Manager to enable Clinical Direct Messaging, if it isn't already available to their users. EHRs and health systems should ensure prescribers' Direct addresses are available.

By exchanging inefficient fax machines and telephones for in-workflow, standards-based solutions that align better with patient care, partners across the Surescripts Network Alliance can more seamlessly respond to the significant disruptions facing them in healthcare and society at large.

Visit Surescripts.com to learn more about how the Surescripts network is supporting patients and providers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.