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April 15, 2024

Connie, the state’s health information exchange, slashes duplicate prescriptions by the millions

Contributed Connie is Connecticut's health information exchange.

The state’s health information exchange, known as Connie, is now helping reduce the number of duplicate prescriptions by the millions for patients across the state, the organization said this week.

The nonprofit exchange, based in West Hartford, was launched in May 2021 after years of wrangling in an effort to provide a single database of medical records that can be accessed securely by any healthcare provider.

According to Connie officials, the exchange now holds data for more than 4.5 million patients in Connecticut. In 2023, the exchange used a medication management tool to produce a significant reduction in the volume of polypharmacy, or the simultaneous use of multiple drugs to treat a single illness or condition — reducing the lines of prescribed medications among those patients from 187.6 million to 21.5 million, an 88.5% reduction.

“Polypharmacy is known to cause a lot of different consequences, including increased risk for adverse drug interactions, hospitalization, falls or even death,” said Sean M. Jeffery, director of clinical pharmacy services at Integrated Care Partners and a member of the state Medication Reconciliation and Polypharmacy Work Group. “Since medication reconciliation is a challenge, having the right collaborative tools at our disposal is critical. The medication management tool is an important step in getting all providers on the same page and improving medication safety.”

According to Connie Executive Director Jenn Searls, the tool collates continuity of care documents (CCDs) from participating healthcare organizations. CCDs provide summaries of care provided to patients.

“They are rich with information that helps providers as they take care of patients, but it can be time consuming to open multiple CCDs in the course of a visit to find out all of the medications a patient is taking,” Searls said.

Connie's medication management tool analyzes medication information from the CCDs and then “provides a streamlined view of a patient's medication in one screen in the Connie tool,” she said.

Searls added that future improvements to the tool will include incorporating dispensed medications, which she called a critical piece “to enhance medication reconciliation for all provider organizations.”

Since Jan. 1, 2023, Connie has seen participation grow to include 42 hospitals and 1,978 ambulatory facilities, and dozens of other healthcare organizations.

In addition to the medication management tool, participating healthcare organizations have access to other tools, including an advanced image-sharing tool. Searls added that a patient portal could be available by this fall.

Connie’s launch in 2021 came after years of debate, with many healthcare providers raising concerns over the security of a far-reaching database of personal medical information. Healthcare organizations are now required by state law to participate in the exchange.

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