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ONC Unveils Pharmacy Interoperability Task Force

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   June 19, 2023

The 23-member task force will develop recommendations to make pharmacists a more integral part of healthcare and give them guidelines for prescribing and managing digital therapeutics and other services.

Federal officials have launched a task force aimed at making pharmacies a more integral part of healthcare.

The Pharmacy Interoperability and Emerging Therapeutics Task Force was unveiled by Tricia Lee Rolle, a senior advisor for the Health and Human Services Department's Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), during a June 15 meeting of the ONC's Health Information Technology Advisor Committee (HITAC).

The 23-member task force is charged with developing new ideas to integrate pharmacies and pharmacy services with clinical care, including creating protocols to support the prescribing and management of new technologies and treatments, such as digital therapeutics, and direct-to-consumer (DTC) services.

The group's co-chairs are Hans Buitendijk of Oracle Health and Shelly Spiro of the Pharmacy Health Information Technology Collaborative. Some of the members were appointed by Congress, while others were selected by the Government Accountability Office and the HHS Secretary.

As noted during a recent panel at the HIMSS 2023 conference and exhibition in Chicago, advocates say the pharmacist can and should play a more active role in care management, helping to take the load off of primary care providers and making the pharmacy a community health resource.

The task force has two short-term goals: To identify standards and data needs for pharmacists to participate in emergency use interventions, and to determine if there are actions that the ONC can take to enable data exchange to support public health emergency use cases.

Long-term goals consist of:

  • Recommending ways to integrate pharmacy systems and data for public health surveillance, reporting, and interventions;
  • Identifying opportunities to improve interoperability between pharmacies to promote pharmacy-based clinical services and care coordination;
  • Identifying standards to support the prescription and management of emerging therapies, such as digital therapeutics, specialty medications, and gene therapies; and
  • Identifying technology and policy requirements for DTC services.

The task force will have a November 9 deadline to return its recommendations.

Eric Wicklund is the associate content manager and senior editor for Innovation, Technology, and Pharma for HealthLeaders.


The ONC's Health Information Technology Advisory Committee this month unveiled the Pharmacy Interoperability and Emerging Therapeutics Task Force.

The 23-member group is charged with developing recommendations to make pharmacists a more integral part of the healthcare landscape, particularly during public health emergencies, and giving them protocols to deal with new services like digital therapeutics and direct-to-consumer treatments.

Advocates say pharmacists should be better integrated into healthcare so they they can handle some healthcare duties, taking the pressure off of primary care providers and giving consumers better access to certain services.

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