Digital platform reduces administrative burden on specialists
September 1, 2022
Electronic medical records (EMRs) have revolutionized healthcare, but they also have their limitations and that has created an opportunity for companies like Ottawa-based Auxita.
A good example is the administrative burden on rheumatologists and other specialists when prescribing biologics and biosimilars through patient support programs (PSPs) operated by pharmaceutical companies and third parties.
Costly drugs such as biologic medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and other conditions are game changers. However, they subject specialists to a blizzard of hard-copy forms going back and forth by fax between themselves and other physicians, pharmaceutical companies, patients and private insurers.
Companies like Auxita that add functionality to physician EMRs are important because the EMR companies “don’t have the bandwidth to optimize the software to allow physicians to deliver efficient and streamlined care,” said Dr. Vandana Ahluwalia, a rheumatologist practising in Brampton, Ont.
Biologics are used by rheumatologists to treat autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, but are also prescribed by dermatologists and gastroenterologists, and they are starting to be used by neurologists to treat multiple sclerosis, said Dr. Ahluwalia.
They are very expensive drugs, costing tens of thousands of dollars per patient annually, and only prescribed when other less expensive drugs aren’t effective. Ontario covers biologics and biosimilars for seniors over the age of 65 and anyone under 25, leaving everyone else to rely on either private insurance or the income-based Trillium Drug Plan.
Ontario’s Ministry of Health has its own web-based forms that physicians use to apply for coverage, but processing prescriptions for patients covered by private payers has been paper-based, time-consuming and maddeningly inefficient.
Auxita’s software integrates with EMRs, maintains an up-to-date library of enrolment and prior authorization forms, supports digital signatures, does away with faxing and perhaps, most important, provides physicians with a dashboard highlighting the progress of the patient journey.
In the absence of Auxita, “We don’t know if the PSP received the form,” complained Dr. Ahluwalia. “We don’t know if the patient has been contacted. We don’t know when the patient started taking the medication. This is why we need Auxita.”
Maintaining an up-to-date library of the forms is one of the key elements of the Auxita solution because the forms constantly change and there are always new ones when patents expire and generic drug manufacturers enter the market with biosimilars.
“A leading biologic patent recently expired, for example, and now there are eight biosimilars, each with its own form and process, so it’s crazy,” complained Dr. Ahluwalia.
Auxita solves the problem by working with the pharmaceutical companies and third parties managing the PSPs to digitize the entire process from enrolment to prior authorization.
One of the major attractions of Auxita is that its costs are covered by their partners and therefore free of charge to physicians. Everyone benefits from the efficiencies of the digitized process and the information stays secure and isn’t shared without each party’s consent.
Auxita integrates with a number of EMRs and is continually working on new integrations.
The company also has a web-based version that is available to specialists using non-integrated EMRs and was due to release an update in July that synchs patient demographics with Auxita even without an EMR integration.
Auxita was founded in 2015 as a diabetes management platform able to capture and interpret data from an EMR and provide primary care physicians with treatment guidelines. From there, Auxita built a primary care patient dashboard that provides primary care physicians with an overview of their patient’s health issues and any alerts requiring follow-up.