DOD delays rollout of pharmacy benefits system

DOD delays rollout of pharmacy benefits system

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

FEB. 8—Defense Department officials have delayed by three months the rollout of a pharmacy benefits system designed to improve safety, but they still plan to meet an August goal for completing the continental U.S. rollout, an official said.

"We're blazing new trails" in integrating three disparate systems into one central repository, said Lt. Col. William G. Davies, the pharmacy data transaction service (PDTS) program manager at the Tricare Management Activity. "A project like this has never really been done in the commercial sector," which accounts for the implementation delays, he said.

The rollout for PDTS begins at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in April. The original rollout target date was January, Davies said.

Through a contract with Computer Sciences Corp. and subcontractor Healtheon/WebMD of Atlanta's Mede America Corp. subsidiary in Twinsburg, Ohio, PDTS will integrate three systems: the National Mail Order Pharmacy, 105 host sites of the Composite Health Care System, and five Pharmacy Benefits Management programs, Davies said.

Tricare officials hope to reduce what they call "patient misadventure"—when patients receive incorrect amounts or types of drugs—by integrating the three systems and standardizing patient identification data by synchronizing four data elements in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, he said.

The biggest hurdle for PDTS is in upgrading military treatment facilities' communications infrastructures so their LANs can access the Defense Information Systems Agency-managed Defense Information Systems Network to send encrypted medical data through network firewalls, Davies said. Fifty million transactions each year should go through DISN as a result of PDTS, which will put a strain on the throughput and capacity of the LANs, he said.

Tricare officials want complete transaction time for PDTS operations through DISN to take six seconds or less, he said.

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