President Trump last week called for a nationally interoperable network of state-run Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs as part of a new initiative to combat the opioid epidemic.

However, the standards and infrastructure for data sharing nationwide between state PDMPs already exists, according to Jim Huizenga, MD, chief clinical officer for vendor Appriss Health, which offers solutions for early identification, prevention and management of substance use disorder.

“What’s not known by many people is that we’re already there—at significant scale,” says Huizenga, an emergency physician with an interest and some training in the area of addiction medicine.

Appriss Health, in collaboration with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), developed and operates PMP InterConnect, which does not house any data but acts as a national exchange hub that enables the secure interstate sharing of PDMP data. Operational since 2011, PMP InterConnect currently includes 45 states that have agreed to share data through the platform.

PMP InterConnect processes more than 17.8 million requests for information and provides 39 million responses each month, providing the platform for physicians and pharmacists to more easily identify patients who are abusing and misusing prescription drugs—particularly those patients crossing state lines to obtain them. The system connects PDMPs, the electronic databases that help states track controlled substance prescriptions, facilitating the interstate transmission of data to authorized requestors, while ensuring that each state’s data access rules are followed.

Huizenga contends that PMP InterConnect is the optimal solution to the Trump administration’s call for national interoperability of PDMPs. “Effectively, it’s already a functioning answer [to the White House call],” he adds. “It’s not even the future answer—it’s there. ”

Also See: Trump opioid plan calls for interoperable exchange of prescription data

According to Huizenga, state PDMPs wishing to participate in the data-sharing platform need only enter into a single memorandum of understanding with NABP, instead of having to develop separate contractual agreements with each participating PDMP. He points out that in 2011, PMP InterConnect started with three PDMPs and has now grown to 45.

Jim Huizenga, MD
Jim Huizenga, MD

“PMP InterConnect is by far the most efficient and widely adopted way to share PDMP data between states,” said Rob Cohen, president of Appriss Health. “All 50 states could quickly and easily be engaged in national PDMP data sharing if they implemented the PMP InterConnect technology—which is available at no cost to the states.”

Earlier this month, NABP briefed 30 staff members from U.S. Senate offices and committees on the progress and capabilities of PMP InterConnect, including PMP Gateway—developed in conjunction with Appriss Health—which increases utilization of PDMP data at the point of care through integration with various electronic health record and pharmacy management systems.

“During the briefing, NABP encouraged attendees to be cognizant of the existing framework provided by state-run, interoperable PDMPs, which provide point-of-care access to PDMP information through electronic health records and pharmacy management systems, as they continue to evaluate how best to improve upon such existing infrastructure,” according to the group. “The value of the existing network is evidenced by the 380 facilities in 33 states that have enabled this point-of-care, one-click access for healthcare providers. Additionally, eight states—Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia—have provided or have committed to provide one-click access for every prescriber and pharmacist in the state.”

While 45 states are currently able to share PDMP data across state lines using PMP InterConnect, several other states intend to begin sharing data or are in the process of signing a memorandum of understanding to participate, according to NABP. At the same time, the group insists that its work is not complete until all 50 states are actively sharing data.

“Some of the reasons states haven’t joined (PMP InterConnect) is because legislatively they are prohibited,” notes Huizenga.

Likewise, Appriss Health’s Cohen believes that policy issues—not technical issues—are preventing the remaining states from sharing PDMP data.

“The PMP InterConnect platform is established, mature and secure, and can easily support connections to every PDMP in the U.S. With some policy and regulatory refinement, all states can be sharing data through the national PMP InterConnect platform,” he adds.

“We remain committed to advancing best practices for PDMPs in the interest of public health. PDMPs remain a vital item in the toolkit healthcare providers, including pharmacists, use to improve opioid prescribing and clinical practice. Our end goal is to save lives and improve patient care,” said Jeanne Waggener, president of NABP. “We’re encouraged by the level of interest, engagement and commitment from Congress, and look forward to working together to promote evidence-based policy aimed at saving lives.”

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