Specialty pharmaceuticals are all different, but there’s one thing they have in common: they are difficult to prescribe. Whether it’s because of high cost, high risk, narrow therapeutic range, or complicated dosing, these drugs require would-be prescribing physicians to prove to insurers the drug is the right choice for their patient by filling out a number of forms and providing key data about the patient.
ZappRx, a digital health platform that launched in 2012, is trying to use technology to ease this burden on providers, which can also be an adherence hurdle for patients. The platform recently got a big boost with the integration of First Databank MedsTracker, an ePrescribing platform that itself integrates with Surescripts.
“There’s a large class of drugs, some of which everyone would agree would be called a specialty drug, others which may just be high-cost drugs, that requires that the prescriber jump through a lot of hoops to get them prescribed for the patient,” Dr. Dewey Howell, VP of clinical applications at First Databank, told MobiHealthNews. “And the problem is, because of that rigamarole, back-and-forth manual passing around of forms and getting forms filled out, there’s a reasonably high percentage of patients that don’t ever get their medication. They certainly have delays in getting their therapy, and in some cases they don’t get it at all because the process is this big barrier that results in abandonment of the prescription altogether.”
MedsTracker has broader ePrescribing functionality that ZappRx can’t match, but ZappRx has a focus on specialty pharma that it brings to the partnership. ZappRx’s platform digitizes all the required forms and allows them to be sent back and forth electronically instead of relying on fax or hand delivery.
“What ZappRx wants to do and what [First Databank] wants to do in this area is to take away any manual parts of the process that we can,” Howell said. “So we get rid of phone calls, get rid of fax machines, get rid of back-and-forth communications between the different players, and understand at the time of prescribing what is needed from the doctor so that when they send that prescription off to the pharmacy they’re confident that it’s going to get filled, the patient can go to the pharmacy, pick up their prescription, and start their therapy — just like any other non-specialty medication.”
MedsTracker integration will allow ZappRx to pull in medication history from pharmacy benefit managers, which is important in cases where doctors have to document that other, less costly medications have been tried.
“[Medication history] is a thing that we don’t often get from the providers and the EHRs, which could allow a collection of medication history with their MedTracker’s ability and integration with SureScripts,” Sabrina Paradis, ZappRx’s director of business development, told MobiHealthNews. “So we’re excited about that piece because it will bring retail drug information as well as specialty drug information into our platform and again make it more visible to the provider.”
The new and improved ZappRx will be rolled out to all of ZappRx’s 25 deployments at small practices and large academic medical centers.