DOD to test advanced e-prescribing system

This summer the Defense Department will test its new electronic pharmacy system, which will centralize and automate more of the electronic prescribing process than the current patchwork of systems and databases.

The pharmacy system, Centricity, will integrate with DOD's electronic health record, the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA), for a comprehensive view of the patient.

Centricity will provide true medication order portability and standardize prescribing across the military services and environments, whether on base or on the battlefield, according to Henry Gibbs, senior analyst for pharmacy operations in Tricare management in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.

DOD will test the system at one facility each for the Army, Navy and Air Force in Ft. Benning, Ga.; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Dayton, Ohio. DOD will start deploying Centricity, a product from GE Healthcare Products in Waukesha, Wis., in 2007 and complete the implementation in 2011.

'I will be able to go to medical facilities in San Diego or [at] Walter Reed Hospital here in Washington and get the same medications, and my drug record will be available wherever I go [in the Tricare system],' Gibbs said at Tricare's annual conference last week on 'Military Medicine: Transforming the Future.'

Tricare will aggregate its drug data in one central database, the Enterprise Drug Database, which Tricare's Pharmacy Operations Center in San Antonio is building and loading, he said. Tricare currently uses drug data from 100 databases.

DOD has contracted with First DataBank Inc. of San Bruno, Calif., for the drug knowledge database that will be Tricare's source for the drug information for the Enterprise Drug Database.

Tricare will not migrate or link all the drug data from the 100 databases because of problems with data integrity. It will start with a core set of data.

'We want to control and centralize it. So we want to build it once and build it correctly,' Gibbs said.

Centricity is designed to have bidirectional automation features. Providers will transmit data to fill prescriptions, and the system will store that and other data, such as lot numbers and fill data from the vendors. The system will have enhanced formulary management capabilities and will determine if the drug and make is included under the patient's plan for that condition, and if not, what is available. The system also will capture inventory data at the time of order and, with its perpetual inventory capability, propose orders once daily to refill inventory.

Centricity also can provide up to 900 standard health care reports based on data from the enterprise database.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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