Politics · March 31, 2021

Connecticut Governor: Funding To Integrate Health Records

Governor Lamont Announces Funding To Integrate Remaining Electronic Health Records With Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

Integration Will Streamline Services for Medical Providers and Further the State’s Efforts to Fight the Opioid Crisis

HARTFORD, CT (STL.News) Governor Ned Lamont and Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull today announced that the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection’s Drug Control Division has received $1.3 million in funding through the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide free access to a Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) Gateway for prescribers and pharmacists.  The PMP Gateway, provided by Appriss Health, allows providers to integrate their electronic health records or pharmacy management system with the PMP.

This integration allows providers to fulfill their requirement to check patient records in the PMP before prescribing opioids and other controlled substance in certain circumstance, and to do it with one login, rather than two.  This ultimately ensures providers in Connecticut can spend less time on a computer and more time with their patients.

The funds will allow the Department of Consumer Protection to offer free Gateway services for two years to providers who already have this integration and to those who still need it.  Roughly 75 percent of healthcare providers in the state currently have Gateway integration and performed more than 19.7 million searches through the integrated systems in 2020 alone, but as a direct cost to the healthcare providers.

The Gateway also includes access to NarxCare, which provides the ability to identify and manage patient prescription drug risk analysis in real-time, as another tool to ensure a practitioner is seeing the most complete picture of a patient’s health.

“This type of integration is critical to ensuring that our medical providers can spend more time with patients who need them most,” Governor Lamont said.  “We’ve learned time and time again that technology can aid not just in moving processes online, but can support us in spending more time with those who need us in person – and that’s what this is about.  The prescription monitoring program is one of the many tools that helps us fight the opioid crisis, and stop addiction before it starts, and this integration will allow our providers to do that even faster.”

“Streamlining the electronic health record and prescription monitoring systems is paramount to tackling and ending the opioid crisis facing our country,” the members of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation – including Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, and Representatives John Larson, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Jim Himes, and Jahana Hayes – said in a joint statement.  “The funding provided by CMS today will further help Connecticut improve its ability to monitor prescribing of controlled substances.  This is another critical step in the right direction.”

“The data collected in the PMP has proved to be a valuable resource for healthcare providers, pharmacists and Connecticut patients,” Commissioner Seagull said.  “By offering increased PMP Gateway access, we are able to directly provide prescribers an even easier way to access and report data and develop care plans for their patients.”

“A direct connection to the Connecticut Prescription Monitoring Program will greatly enhance compliance to access this multi-state database,” Dr. Steven Wolf, chair of the emergency department at Saint Francis Hospital, said.  “Presently, most providers have to go through several steps to find a patient in the system, which ends up being considerably time consuming.  With a direct connection to electronic medical records, we will now be able to expedite the process of finding a patient’s information with just a click of a button.  Thanks to this access, we will be able to provide comprehensive patient care in an even more timely manner.”

“Our healthcare providers want to focus on patients and not on administrative details,” Dr. Deidre Gifford, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Social Services and acting commissioner of the Department of Public Health, said.  “Tools like the PMP Gateway help make sure that practitioners have as much time as possible to spend with their patients;  ensure they have what they need to support their patients in decision-making; and support compliance with state and federal regulations.  I am grateful for the support from CMS, and hope that this will make a difference in our patients’ lives.”

“The best way to treat opioid misuse is to prevent it from starting,” Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon said.  “By giving practitioners tools like this to streamline and expedite access to a patient’s complete medical picture, we have a chance to halt addiction before it starts and get support and help to patients who need it.  This marks a hopeful step forward in our fight against this opioid crisis.”

“The value of access to a patient’s medication history at point of care cannot be overstated,” Connecticut Office of Health Strategy Executive Director Vicki Veltri said.  “This is a good example of how the state can utilize federal funding to further interoperability to make it easier for providers to access medication information critical to ensuring better health outcomes for the people of Connecticut.”

“We are proud to support Connecticut and its prescribers and pharmacists in maximizing the state’s PMP effectiveness in the fight against the opioid epidemic,” Rob Cohen, president of Appriss Health, said.  “The addition of PMP Gateway enhances the state’s aggressive, multi-pronged approach to curbing the opioid crisis.”

“Today’s announcement is a great example of the kind of behind the scenes work between government and private sector that can save lives and help us combat the opioid epidemic,” Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said.  “I want to thank Governor Lamont and his administration for their focus on investments like this, which will make a different at Saint Francis Hospital and other providers that serve Hartford residents.”

The PMP Gateway is also a multi-state query system that provides access to PMPs in 39 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Veterans Administration System.

Under Connecticut law, the PMP collects prescription data for Schedule II through Schedule V drugs into a centralized database, the Connecticut Prescription Monitoring and Reporting System.  The database is used by healthcare providers and pharmacists in the active treatment of their patients.  Pharmacies and dispensing practitioners must submit data daily.