Epic, Cerner collaborating with White House on COVID-19 therapeutics

The White House announced Tuesday that it was continuing to work with electronic health record vendors as part of increasing access to COVD-19 treatments.

President Joe Biden’s Test-to-Treat initiative, announced this past monthis aimed at facilitating access to Pfizer’s COVID-19 medication, known as Paxlovid.

But as cases increase throughout the United States, some pharmacies and providers have expressed confusion over how to get the drug to those who could benefit from it. Additionally, public health experts say those without health insurance may have increased difficulty in obtaining the medication.

“Over the last few months the administration has worked very hard with Pfizer to increase the supply of Paxlovid,” said Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, in a press briefing Tuesday. “And now our job is to make sure these doses are getting out there.”

Starting this week, the Biden administration will allow tens of thousands of pharmacy locations to order free oral antiviral treatments directly from the federal government, along with being able to receive medications from state and territorial health departments.

The administration is also capitalizing on its existing work with electronic health record vendors by calling on EHR companies to incorporate information about antivirals directly into their interfaces.

“This would make it easier to prompt doctors with information about treatments and locations when interacting with a patient – ​​helping to better integrate the prescription of oral antivirals to patients who need them into doctors’ everyday practice,” said the White House in a fact sheet released Tuesday.

Alongside the White House announcement, major EHR players Cerner and Epic reinforced their commitment to connecting clinicians and patients with correct information about COVID-19 treatments.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, Cerner has worked with health systems and organizations around the world, including the federal government, to support the tracking and treatment of COVID-19,” said David Feinberg, CEO and president of Cerner, in a statement .

“We will continue to place knowledge and data in front of caregivers so they can deliver the best treatments possible for their communities,” Feinberg continued.

Cerner will integrate the latest drug therapeutics into its clinical content; provide caregivers with prescribing suggestions for certain treatments or therapeutics based on appropriateness for the patient and Office of Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response recommendations; and directly include ASPR’s COVID-19 Therapeutics Locator site within the caregiver’s workflow in Cerner Millennium, thus enabling them to check a drug’s availability and location.

Epic, meanwhile, has rolled out three enhancements, including the ability for providers to focus pharmacy searches on only those that have recently reported a stock of those treatments back to the HHS; warnings for unavailable prescriptions; and education for providers and patients.

“While Test-to-Treat facilities are tremendous resources in their communities, it’s important that we account for patients who seek care in other settings,” said Dr. Jackie Gerhart, vice president of clinical informatics at Epic, in a statement.

As explained by the Biden administration, the Department of Health and Human Services will work with pharmacies to increase availability to up to 40,000 sites over the coming weeks, in addition to opening more Test-to-Treat locations.

“Through Epic, providers can more easily connect patients to lifesaving treatments as the administration significantly increases the number of pharmacies that carry those treatments,” Gerhart said.

“This initiative ensures that ordering providers across the nation have access to accurate and timely information about the location and availability of these treatments,” she said.

“As testing and treatment strategies continue to evolve, the rapid incorporation and dissemination of information at the point of care will continue to be a critical part of the fight against COVID-19,” she continued.

“We are doubling down on our communication efforts with physicians and other prescribers,” Jha said in the press briefing Tuesday. “What we need to do is help American physicians and practitioners… understand that we now have plenty available.”

“If you get COVID, you should see your provider and make that assessment with your provider,” said Jha.

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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