IT group wants interoperability standards for drug monitoring

As the House and Senate work in a conference committee on anti-opioid abuse legislation, a coalition called Health IT Now has asked lawmakers to lay out more specific standards on how different states’ prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) will be interoperable.

The Senate’s proposal included a provision to ensure the 49 states that have set up PDMPs are capable of sharing data, in an effort to stop patients from “doctor shopping” across state lines to look for a physician willing to prescribe them potentially addictive opioids.

In a letter to the four legislative leaders in Congress, Health IT Now said Congress should adjust the bill to make sure any data sharing requirements are in line with existing technology and industry standards.

“We are concerned that without clear direction from Congress on how states should implement standards for an interoperable PDMP program, some states may create new and disparate standards for interoperability,” the group wrote. “Likewise, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could require use of a standard that is not currently used in the market. This would severely harm rapid implementation of an interoperable PDMP and could result in drug seekers circumventing the system, thus failing patients in need of treatment and hurting those who have a valid medical need.”

The group specifically recommended the phrase “widely accepted electronic healthcare standards such as those developed by the National Council of Prescription Drug Programs” be used in the legislation.