Say aloha to paperless prescriptions

Pacifc Telehealth & Technolgy Hui

Veterans with full retirement benefits can now fill their prescriptions at the departments of Veterans Affairs or Defense hospitals, but until this week, they had to carry a paper prescription between the hospitals, even though the VA and DOD health systems have robust electronic health care networks.

But interfaces between the DOD Composite Health Care System (CHCS) and the VA's Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) are limited, requiring a lot of paper shuffling for veterans who use both systems.

Veterans in Hawaii will no longer have to follow the paper prescription trail thanks to a new VA/DOD bidirectional pharmacy system deployed this week by the Pacific Telehealth & Technology Hui, a health research and application and development center back by the DOD Pacific Regional Medical Command and the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System.

Dr. Stanley Saiki, director of the Hui -- which means group in the Hawaiian language -- said the new pharmacy interface for DOD's Clinical Bi-directional Interface System (CBIS) supports electronic transmission of prescription orders from the VA Medical Center in Honolulu to the Tripler Army Medical Center, also located in Honolulu.

The new interface, developed over the past 18 months by the Hui in collaboration with Clinical Information Technology Program Office of the Military Health System, generates messages between the systems, which carry the pharmacy information.

This allows VA physicians to enter information into their VistA terminals and have them electronically transferred to CHCS, the first pharmacy interface between the two systems, Saiki said. The system can also be used to send prescriptions from Tripler to the VA, Saiki said. He added that the pioneering work done in Hawaii could be transferred to other DOD and VA health care facilities nationwide.

Besides saving time, the pharmacy interface also reduces errors that could be caused by rekeying of information in the paper prescription, Saiki said. Electronic interchange of prescriptions between the VA and DOD systems also insures a “more comprehensive record” of drugs patients are taking, key to prevention of adverse drug-drug interaction.

Saiki said development of the bidirectional pharmacy system also dovetails with projects led by the Department of Health and Human Services to develop health information systems interoperability, with the DOD and VA health system the largest in the nation.

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