One Small Step for e-Prescriptions, One Giant Leap for Healthcare

The merger between RxHub and SureScripts has garnered extensive coverage - here, among others. This is a huge step forward for standardizing on, and speeding the adoption of, electronic prescriptions. It is significant progress, and the latest of many advancements the healthcare sector is driving forward. There is one area of the electronic prescriptions story though that is missing from all of the stories around the RxHub/SureScripts merger, though it's an important piece of the equation - authenticating that the prescription drug order is legitimate, and truly from an approved physician. Electronic transactions are easier and quicker, sure, but so is the potential for misuse and fraud.

The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy is on the mark with the requirements calling for 'positive identification' for the prescriber with online prescription orders to use 'a method that may not rely solely on the use of a private personal identifier such as a password, but also include a secure means of identification such as the following:' including biometrics or proximity badges (Part N in the mandate).

OhioHealth, on the cutting edge with opening an entirely paperless facility (which the WSJ Health blog covered earlier this year) has also taken a significant step in deploying a strong authentication solution to help its physicians and clinicians embrace electronic prescriptions while adhering to the state's mandates surrounding them. Now many other states are following suit requiring positive identification and strong authentication for these online orders. [Disclosure: OhioHealth is using Imprivata technology]. However, we've been quite involved in the area of transactional strong authentication, especially in the area of e-Pescription authentication, and it a crucial component of the online prescription drug order process - as noted in Network World.

The RxHub/SureScripts merger is a big step forward in the industry more broadly realizing the benefits of e-Prescriptions, but the role of positive identification in the electronic prescription drug order process cannot be overlooked. If you think otherwise, just look at how state mandates are driving technology policy at hospitals nationwide - Ohio is just one of many states that are in tune with these issues.