NCPDP-HL7 Electronic Prescribing Coordination Project Status Report – Executive Summary

10 December 2004

Ross D. Martin, MD, MHA

Members of two Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) – the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) and Health Level 7 (HL7) – are actively engaged in a project to map relevant portions of the NCPDP SCRIPT version 4.2 and HL7 version 2.3 standards and create associated documentation in order to facilitate electronic prescribing (eRx) messaging between HL7-centric and NCPDP-centric pharmacy and prescribing systems.

Since our initial report to the NCVHS Subcommittee on Standards and Security on August 17th of this year, much progress has been made in this effort.  For a transcript of the earlier report, please refer to

This initiative, which began with a multi-stakeholder kickoff meeting on July 27th, 2004, has continued in earnest since our initial report to the Subcommittee of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics in August 2004.  Phase I of the project is focused on completing a basic mapping of the two eRx standard in order to facilitate the delivery of inpatient discharge prescriptions to retail and mail order pharmacies.  Several of the project participants will be demonstrating the capabilities of the Phase I mapping at the February 2004 HIMSS meeting and at the March 2005 NCPDP Annual Conference.  In addition to the basic scenario of fulfilling electronic prescriptions, the participants will show the use of HL7 and NCPDP standards and proposed NCPDP standards for delivering medication history information at the point of care.

Overall, the project has gone well, with many stakeholders volunteering their time to advance the project.  By all measures, the project has grown in scope and participation.  From the original sixteen participants at the kickoff meeting, the project now claims more than 50 participants in the Yahoo! Group.  Café Rx, a consortium of health information technology stakeholders, has agreed to provide project management services in support of the ongoing effort.  There has been some degree of project management turnover in recent months, but project participation has remained high during these transitions.

The principal output of Phase I of the project will be a mapping guidance document, which is focused solely on the scenarios to be demonstrated at HL7 and NCPDP this spring.  Future phases of the project include the creation of a Change Management Plan where common processes among SDOs, such as ANSI reporting, the HISB Harmonization processes, and the Designated Standards Maintenance Organization (DSMO) processes, are coordinated to as great an extent as possible in order to minimize administrative burden and duplication of efforts.

Current participants have indicated that they intend to continue participating in the coordination project beyond the first phase.  There is still a need for support for cross-standards education so that work on mapping to version 3 of HL7 can commence in earnest.

More information is available from the HL7-NCPDP Liaisons and Project Coordinators.  Those wishing to participate can join the NCPDP-HL7 Yahoo! Group by contacting one of the project coordinators.

NCPDP/HL7 Liaisons:

Karen Eckert –

Jim McCain –

Ross Martin –

Project Coordinators:

Kevin Deysenroth –

Lynne Gilbertson –

Scott Robertson –

Matt Yeager –