The present invention relates generally to methods for tracking controlled substances and, more specifically, to methods especially suitable for tracking and managing prescription information in aggregate.
Although the exact frequency of prescription drug abuse is unknown in the United States, it has been reported that more than fifty percent of all emergency room visits for drug-related problems are connected to prescription drug misuse or accidental overdose. It has also been estimated that in some communities, more than sixty percent of medical examiner cases are related to prescription drugs.
It is estimated that more than four million people a year in the U.S. misuse or abuse prescription drugs. For instance, according to an August 1999 article in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, older Americans (age 65 and older) currently account for 12.5% of the total US population, but consume 25% of all prescription medications. It is documented that 17% of the senior population misuses medications, accounting for approximately $2 billion loss annually.
The AMA estimates that 5% of physicians are grossly negligent and 1-1.5% are dishonest in their prescribing of pharmaceuticals. This would amount to a cost of $2.5 billion annually.
Three hundred fifty thousand adverse medication errors (probably far greater not reported) occur each year among one-half million nursing home residents in the United States. One employee in ten has a problem with alcohol/drugs. Absenteeism is 66% higher among drug users.
Among drug users, health benefit utilization is 300% higher, disciplinary actions are 90% higher, and employee turnover is significantly higher. Forty-seven percent of workplace accidents are drug related.
In fact, it is clear that the Healthcare industry is facing a number of challenges today unlike ever faced before. An educated, consuming public has ever increasing expectations for exponential improvement in healthcare delivery, while at the same time, economic pressures are forcing tighter controls over cost, efficiency and quality.
The industry has widely recognized a need for better efficiencies, but without notable success in many areas, including prescription abuse. For instance, the Healthcare Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandates making the exchange of information more ubiquitous, secure, and efficient but does not provide a solution with respect to prescription tracking and abuse. While it is well known that it would be desirable to reduce spiraling cost structures, mitigate health risks, provide more efficient billing and business modeling, eliminate redundancy, and improve informational flow, the solutions to such overwhelming problems are generally unavailable.
In 1993, prescription drug sales were $25 billion. Since that time prescriptions have risen more than 50%, totaling close to three billion prescriptions annually. With soaring costs, the sum of prescription drugs is currently greater that $50 billion annually, with limited ability to control or manage those costs.
These estimates are only for the cost of drugs themselves, and don't include many of the highly significant tangential costs associated with abuse, additional healthcare requirements and costs associated with drug interactions, insurance fraud resulting from purchase of class drugs for resale on the street, dispensing of wrong prescriptions due to misread prescriptions, and the like, which are proportionally of greater cost.
It would be desirable to provide a healthcare utility that can assist substantially in reducing these misused and abused prescriptions. It would be desirable to provide major changes in the delivery of prescription drugs that produce measurable social and economic impacts on spending within the healthcare value chain including less abuse-related healthcare costs, fewer erroneous prescriptions, more accountability, and better tracking and management of prescriptions.
Patents that involve attempts to solve the above or related problems include the following:
U.S. Pat. No. 6,067,524, issued May 23, 2000, to Byerly et al., discloses a method and system for generating advisory messages to pharmacy patients that includes appending patient-specific information to a data record containing normally transmitted information. The data record is transmitted between a third party computer and a pharmacy computer during a pharmacy transaction. The data record transmitted to the pharmacy computer is captured by an advisory computer as the data record is received by the pharmacy computer or after the data record is transmitted to the pharmacy computer, and the patient-specific information is extracted from the captured data record. The advisory computer generates an advisory message based on the extracted patient-specific information, and it transmits the generated advisory message to a pharmacy printer. The advisory computer includes a memory containing a data structure for storing the patient-specific information, the normally transmitted information, and the generated advisory message. A computer program product includes a computer storage medium and a computer program code mechanism embedded in the computer storage medium for causing a computer to generate an advisory message. The computer program code mechanism includes a first computer code device configured to append the patient-specific information, a second computer code device configured to capture the data record transmitted to the pharmacy computer, a third computer code device configured to extract the patient-specific information from the captured data record, a fourth computer code device configured to generate the advisory message based on the extracted patient specific information, and a fifth computer code device configured to transmit the generated advisory message to the pharmacy printer.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,055,507, issued Apr. 25, 2000, to D. W. Cunningham, discloses a new and improved method of dispensing, tracking and managing pharmaceutical product samples by communicatively linking prescribers and pharmacies to a central computing station. The method entails utilizing product trial media that is exchanged for actual pharmaceutical product. The media is encoded with information that identifies a particular pharmaceutical trial product, such as by magnetic encoding similar to that used with credit cards. The media is distributed to participating medical doctors or prescribers who then activate the media via the central computing station. The prescriber then transfers the activated media to patients who then present the media to participating pharmacies. Before filling the pharmaceutical trial product identified by the media, the pharmacy validates the media via a link with the central computing station. Then, the pharmacy dispenses the prescribed pharmaceutical trial product. The central computing station also includes a database that records data related to the use of the media so that all pharmaceutical trial products can be accounted for.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,542,420, issued Aug. 6, 1996, to Goldman et al., discloses a health care system for specifying edibles to individual subjects. The personalized method and system for storage, communication, analysis and processing of health-related data comprises a storage containing data relating to health and edibles and is adapted to receive data on the conditions and characteristics of the individual subjects. The health care system further comprises input terminals adapted to be coupled to the storage means for providing data on the conditions and characteristics of the individual subjects, and a health computer for correlating the data relating to health and edibles with the data on the condition and characteristics of an individual subject to provide a personalized prescription of edibles.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,628,530, issued May 13, 1997, to G. B. Thornton, discloses a method and system for collectively tracking demographics of physician prescribed starter drug samples dispensed to a plurality of patients from a plurality of different dispensing locations employs a multipart product specific sample drug voucher, such as a smart card or a preprinted two part voucher, which has a marketing information portion and a separable prescription portion to be completed by the prescribing physician with starter drug sample quantity and dosage information along with patient demographic information. The prescription portion is segregated from the marketing information portion at the pharmacy either electronically by a card reader, if it had been encoded on a smart card by the physician, or physically by separation along a perforation, if recorded on a two part voucher, and is electronically retreivably stored in the pharmacy computer from where this tracking information is electronically transmitted to a central remote computer, such as at the drug manufacturer, for subsequent rapid market analysis.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,737,539, issued Apr. 7, 1998, to Edelson et al., discloses an electronic prescription creation system for use by professional prescribers at the point of care which has a prescription division subsystem permitting creation of a single prescription to be automatically divided into two components for fulfilment of one portion quickly and locally at higher cost and of another portion by remote mail order taking more time but providing a cost saving for a major part of the prescription. The prescription creation system has an ability to access remote source databases for system presentation to the prescriber of relevant, authorized and current drug, drug formulary and patient history information, with dynamic creation of a transient virtual patient record, the information being presented to the prescriber before completion of the prescription, permitting enhancement of the quality of prescribing decisions.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,758,095, issued May 26, 1998, to Albaum et al., discloses a system and method for ordering and prescribing drugs for a patient. This system includes an improved process for facilitating and automating the process of drug order entry. The user may interact with the system in a variety of ways such as keyboard, mouse, pen-base entry or voice entry. The system includes a database containing medical prescribing and drug information which is both general and patient-specific. The system also permits the user to view current and previously prescribed medications for any patient. The system can alert the user to potentially adverse situations as a result of the prescribed medication based on information in the database. The system also can automatically determine product selection based on descriptions and can automatically communicate the order to a pharmacy. Further, the system includes a means for automatically displaying messages to the user relating to predetermined situations. For example, such situations may include a medication which is not available in the formulary or the prescription of a non-recommended medication. The system streamlines the order entry process and makes information important to the drug ordering process easily available.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,845,255, issued Dec. 1, 1998, to C. Mayaud, discloses a wirelessly deployable, electronic prescription creation system for physician use that captures into a prescription a patient condition-objective of the prescribed treatment and provides for patient record assembly from source elements, with privacy controls for patient and doctor, adverse indication review and online access to comprehensive drug information including scientific literature. Extensions to novel multi-drug packages and dispensing devices, and an “intelligent network” remote data retrieval architecture as well as onscreen physician-to-pharmacy and physician-to-physician e-mail are also provided.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,991,731, issued Nov. 23, 1999, to Colon et al., discloses a computer system and method for managing data used in conducting clinical studies concerning subjects at a plurality of participating, geographically distributed clinical sites, wherein each participating clinical site having a computer or inputting, transmitting and receiving data over the Internet. An Internet network server computer is interfaced to a database host computer through a private network. The system communicates data over the Internet to determine patient eligibility, randomization and initial prescriptions, which can then be adjusted by the physician online. The final prescription is printed out for signature and sent electronically to a distribution center. Study data is maintained in a database in the host computer behind a firewall provided in the Internet server computer.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,832,449, issued Nov. 3, 1998, to D. W. Cunningham, discloses a new and improved method of dispensing, tracking and managing pharmaceutical product samples by communicatively linking prescribers and pharmacies to a central computing station. The method entails utilizing product trial media that is exchanged for actual pharmaceutical product. The media is encoded with information that identifies a particular pharmaceutical trial product, such as by magnetic encoding similar to that used with credit cards. The media is distributed to participating medical doctors or prescribers who then activate the media via the central computing station. The prescriber then transfers the activated media to patients who then present the media to participating pharmacies. Before filling the pharmaceutical trial product identified by the media, the pharmacy validates the media via a link with the central computing station. Then, the pharmacy dispenses the prescribed pharmaceutical trial product. The central computing station also includes a database that records data related to the use of the media so that all pharmaceutical trial products can be accounted for.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,068,156, issued May 30, 2000, to Liff et al., discloses an automated drug dispensing system that includes a cabinet adapted to store a variety of prepackaged pharmaceuticals in a plurality of bins for filling patient prescriptions. Each bin stores a particular variety of packaged multiple-dose pharmaceutical. Each variety of pharmaceutical is associated with a particular code. A controller receives request signals and in response generates dispense signals. Each bin includes a dispenser coupled to the controller for dispensing the packaged pharmaceuticals therefrom in response to a dispense signal sent from the controller. After a package is dispensed, a code reader determines the code of the dispensed package and verifies whether the code on the dispensed package matches the code of the requested package.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,073,106, issued Jun. 6, 2000, to Rozen et al., discloses a method whereby via Internet communications or via phone/fax/mail, a participant is prompted to provide a constant identifier and a selected password. Emergency and confidential categories of medical information are identified, and the participant is prompted to provide personal information in each of the categories and a different personal identification number (E-PIN, C-PIN) for each category. The participant is also prompted to provide an instruction to disclose or to not disclose the personal information in the emergency category in the event a requester of the information is an emergency medical facility and is unable to provide the participant's E-PIN. Alteration of any of the participant's medical information is enabled upon presentation of the participant's identifier and password by the requester. The emergency information or the confidential information is disclosed upon presentation of the participant's identifier and E-PIN or C-PIN. In addition, the emergency information is disclosed to an emergency medical facility verified as such by a service provider in the event the participant has provided an instruction to disclose the emergency information. Storage and access to health related documents such as healthcare power of attorney, consent for treatment, and eyeglass prescription is also provided.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,128,620, issued Oct. 3, 2000, to Pissanos et al., discloses a medical database and associated methods especially suited for compiling information in a medical malpractice situation. A general medical database is provided and specific medical information corresponding to a given situation is entered. Entry of the information automatically cross-references some terms of the entered data to definitions in the general medical database. Terms are readily looked up when reviewing specific medical information and definitions are easily inserted where desired. A drug reference display provides two-way lookup from drugs to their side effects (or contraindications or interactions) and back. Significant information from an entered medical chronology is easily copied to a significant information section when a reviewer finds the information important.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,195,612, issued Feb. 27,2001, to T. L. Pack-Harris, discloses a pharmacy benefit management system that includes a pharmacy computer for generating pharmacy claim information based on pharmacy activity of a medical group. A health plan computer is responsive to the pharmacy claim information for generating pharmacy activity information for the medical group. A medical group computer receives the pharmacy activity information from the health plan computer and stores the pharmacy activity information. The pharmacy activity information is processed to generate utilization information to enable the medical group to monitor the pharmacy activity.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,216,104 B1, issued Apr. 10, 2001, to Mosfeghi et al., discloses a Computer-based Patient Record (CPR) system including user equipment devices which are configured for speech synthesis in response to speech markup language text and which are connected via a network to a middle tier of a server system. The CPR system further includes a message delivery facility for delivery of textual messages to any of pager, electronic mail, or voice mail (after text-to-speech synthesis) message delivery vehicles. The server system accesses a user specific data store containing speech synthesis profiles which include prosodic information of the voices and speech of users, and message delivery profiles which specify which of the aforementioned message delivery vehicles are to be used and in what order. The stored speech synthesis information associated with an originator of a message and the stored message delivery information associated with the recipient of message are provided by the server to user equipment or a reminder generator to produce speech markup files containing information needed to synthesize the vocal and speech characteristics of the originator accompanied by delivery instructions reflecting the message delivery preferences of the recipient.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,219,674 B1, issued Apr. 17, 2001, to J. B. Classen, discloses systems and methods for creating and using product data to enhance the safety of a medical or non-medical products. The systems receive vast amounts of data regarding adverse events associated with a particular product and analyze the data in light of already known adverse events associated with the product. The system develops at least one proprietary database of newly discovered adverse event information and new uses for the product and may catalog adverse event information for a large number of population sub-groups. The system may also be programmed to incorporate the information into intellectual property and contract documents. Manufacturers can include the information in consumer product information which they provide to consumers or, in the case of certain medical products, prescribers of the medical products.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,230,142 B1, issued May 8, 2001, to Benigno et al., discloses systems useful for analyzing data related to clinical pathways and performing actions based upon the analyses. A self-analyzing system for suggesting default clinical pathways for various procedures. A self-analyzing system for suggesting deviation from a current clinical pathway and entry into an alternative clinical pathway based upon historical information about the results of actions. Statistical analysis systems based on clinical pathways. A rating system for care providers or proposed pathways based on historical information. Systems for gathering clinical pathway information. Systems for tracking clinical pathway outcomes based on data collected post-treatment. A system for prequalification for appropriate discharge and post-discharge handling of and communication with a new class of patient, those requiring stable acute care. A questionnaire computer language and subsystem are used in various stages of the systems of the invention. Corresponding methods are also disclosed.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,283,322 B1, issued Sep. 4, 2001, to Liff et al., discloses an automated drug dispensing system that includes a cabinet adapted to store a variety of prepackaged pharmaceuticals in a plurality of bins for filling patient prescriptions. Each bin stores a particular variety of packaged multiple-dose pharmaceutical. Each variety of pharmaceutical is associated with a particular code. A controller receives request signals and in response generates dispense signals. Each bin includes a dispenser coupled to the controller for dispensing the packaged pharmaceuticals therefrom in response to a dispense signal sent from the controller. After a package is dispensed, a code reader determines the code of the dispensed package and verifies whether the code on the dispensed package matches the code of the requested package.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,240,394 B1, issued May 29, 2001, to Uecker et al., discloses a system for generating targeted advisory messages for pharmacy patients based on selected monitored data components of each transaction. When a pharmacy computer prints transaction data, the system monitors the data using printer data capture hardware interposed between the pharmacy computer and its printer. An additional processor compares selected components of the monitored transaction data with preselected combinations of the these components in a database. The database associates the preselected combinations of transaction data components with advisory message components retrieved from the database and used to build an advisory message for output to a printer, which may be the pharmacy computer or an additional printer. Targeting of the advisory messages is based on selected combinations of the identity of the drug being dispensed to the patient, the patient's age and gender, the new or renewal status of the prescription, and the identity of the party primarily responsible for payment to the pharmacy for the transaction.
The above-cited patents do not solve the problem of misused and abused prescriptions discussed above. Consequently, there remains a need for an improved system for tracking prescription drugs and/or controlled substances. Those of skill in the art will appreciate the present invention which addresses the above and other problems.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
An objective of the present invention is to provide an improved method for controlling information related to controlled substances and/or prescriptive medications.
Another objective of the present invention is to provide a complete prescriptive medication history of patients for use by doctors, hospitals, pharmacists, and other health care workers.
Another objective of the present invention is to provide a means for searching massive amounts of data for selected criteria to reduce costs involved with prescriptive medications.
These and other objectives, features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the drawings, the descriptions given herein, and the appended claims. However, it will be understood that the above-listed objectives of the invention are intended only as an aid in quickly understanding aspects of the invention, and are not intended to limit the invention in any way, and therefore do not form a comprehensive or restrictive list of objectives, and/or features, and/or advantages.
Accordingly, the invention comprises, in one embodiment thereof, a method for tracking prescriptive medications. The method may comprise one or more steps such as, for instance, providing respective computer connections to a plurality of entities wherein the plurality of entities may comprise a plurality of unaffiliated and/or affiliated pharmacies, storing pharmaceutical computer data relating to prescriptive medication purchases obtained by a plurality of prescriptive medication purchasers from the plurality of unaffiliated pharmacies, and selectively transferring the pharmaceutical computer data through the computer connections to at least one of the plurality of entities for obtaining a medication history of a selected prescriptive medication purchaser for all prescriptive medications purchased by the selected prescriptive medication purchaser from all of the plurality of unaffiliated pharmacies based on the transferred pharmaceutical computer data.
The method may further comprise providing that the at least one of the plurality of entities comprises a physician's office and the selected prescriptive medication purchaser is a patient of the physician such that the physician's office utilizes the pharmaceutical computer data to verify the medication history of the selected prescriptive medication purchaser.
Other steps may further comprise providing that the at least one of the plurality of entities comprises a pharmacy with a pharmacist, such that when the selected prescriptive medication purchaser requests that the pharmacist fill a new prescriptive medication then the pharmacist utilizes the pharmaceutical computer data to compare the new prescriptive medication with respect to the medication history of the selected prescriptive medication purchaser. The method may further comprise the pharmacist accepting or declining to fill the new prescriptive medication based on the medication history.
Other steps may further comprise providing that at least one of the plurality of entities comprises a hospital and the selected prescriptive medication purchaser is a patient of the hospital such that the hospital utilizes the pharmaceutical computer data to determine the medication history of the selected prescriptive medication purchaser.
The method may further comprise providing that the pharmaceutical computer data for each of the prescriptive medication purchases comprises a name of a respective prescriptive medication purchaser, an address of the respective prescriptive medication purchaser, a drug prescribed, the respective prescriptive medication purchaser, a quantity of the drug, a dosage of the drug, a pharmacist name, and a doctor name.
The method may further comprise searching the stored pharmaceutical computer data based on one or more of the name of a respective prescriptive medication purchaser, the address of the respective prescriptive medication purchaser, the drug prescribed, the respective prescriptive medication purchaser, the quantity of the drug, the dosage of the drug, the pharmacist name, and the doctor name.
Other steps may further comprise storing pharmaceutical data related to whether a request for filling a prescriptive medication is filled or declined and/or providing that at least one of the plurality of entities comprises a government agency and/or storing pharmaceutical computer data relating to aberrant use of prescriptive medications.
The method of claim may further comprise providing that the plurality of entities may comprise a plurality of hospitals, a plurality of doctors, and at least one government agency, and selectively transferring the pharmaceutical computer data through the computer connections to at least one of the plurality of hospitals, the plurality of doctors, or the at least one government agency.
This summary is not intended to be a limitation with respect to the features of the invention as claimed, and this and other objects can be more readily observed and understood in the detailed description of the preferred embodiment and in the claims.