Vermont EDs acessing records of patients' meds

Obtain history, even at first visit

Two Vermont EDs have initiated a health information technology project that will enable their physicians and nurses to obtain accurate medication lists for patients within seconds — even if the patient has never visited the hospital before.

Rutland Regional Medical Center and Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury are the first two hospitals in Vermont to implement the new electronic medication history service in their EDs. The service will be rolled out to other hospitals in the state over the next year.

The medication history service is offered by Montpelier-based Vermont Information Technology Leaders (VITL), a not-for-profit, public-private partnership. GE Healthcare, of South Burlington, VT, developed the service for VITL and provides maintenance and support for the hospitals.

Data from prescriptions filled at pharmacies are being provided by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), including RESTAT in West Bend, WI, and MedMetrics in Worcester, MA, the PBMs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and Vermont Medicaid, respectively. Playing a central role in the project is RxHub of St. Paul, MN, which electronically routes up-to-date patient-specific medication history and pharmacy benefit information to caregivers at every point of care.

Patients arriving at the EDs are asked for permission to access their electronic medication history. Almost all choose to opt in.

State officials claim that the medication history service developed in Vermont is considered the most effective in the country because of its high level of data availability. Medication data are available on 75% of the patients visiting the ED, due to the cooperation of major payers, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, MVP Healthcare, and the Vermont Medicaid program.

VITL and GE Healthcare say they will be work together to develop and implement other standards-based health information technology projects.