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Coalition Offers Free E-prescribing

April 6, 2007
by root
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A new industry group is looking to remove the technological and financial barriers that keep physicians from e-prescribing.

A new healthcare industry coalition consisting of technology companies, payers and providers is offering free e-prescribing software as part of an effort to get every physician in America off paper.

The National e-Prescribing Patient Safety Initiative (NEPSI) is offering eRx NOW (Web-based software from Chicago-based Allscripts) free to any healthcare provider with legal authority to prescribe medications. According to NEPSI, the technology requires no download, no new hardware, and minimal training. Enhanced features include the ability to generate prescriptions that include drug interaction checking provided by Philadelphia-based Wolters Kluwer Health.

Making the case

During a press conference held to introduce the initiative, Nancy Dickey — former president of the American Medical Association, current president of the Health Science Center and vice chancellor for Health Affairs at the Texas A&M University System — cited an Institute of Medicine report which stated that more than 7,000 patients die each year as a result of medication errors, many caused by paper-based "hand-offs" of prescriptions, as spurring the new effort.

"Paper kills," stated Newt Gingrich, founder, The Center for Health Transformation and former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Gingrich went on to mention that he served as the ranking Republican on the Aviation Subcommittee, noting that affordability or pilot interest would never figure into whether or not airlines would institute different safety measures. "We are relentless about aviation safety, but then we kill you in the hospital," he said.

Glen Tullman, CEO of Allscripts, said that most of the barriers to physician adoption have been removed. "We see this as the first step to get physicians onto the electronic superhighway."

Pharmacy connectivity on that superhighway will be provided by industry organization SureScripts, which states that it has connectivity to 55,000 pharmacies or 99 percent of the pharmacy universe.

Scott Wells, vice president of marketing, Dell Americas (Round Rock, Texas), said he was particularly happy with the ASP-model being embraced by NEPSI, noting that such a model makes for very low barriers to entry on the provider side.

Added Gingrich, "When we're done, we'll look back and wonder why it took so long."

The specs

The product includes real-time notification of insurance formulary status from a number of payers, plans and pharmacy benefit managers. eRx NOW also includes the ability for physicians to search and find targeted health-related information for themselves or patients using a custom search engine from Google. The NEPSI Custom Search Engine was created for medical professionals and enables those using the eRx Now product to get search results tailored for the medical community.

According to NEPSI, eRx NOW features multiple redundant layers of firewall, deep-packet inspection, SSL encryption, database encryption, intrusion detection and virus, spyware and malware protection for the program's remote servers. To ensure patient privacy, patient information is stored on remote servers in a secure location.

Interested physicians can visit the NEPSI web site, to register for the program. The solution is currently being used by physicians and will begin national deployment by the beginning of March.


Coalition members include:

  • Aetna, Hartford, Conn.
  • Allscripts, Chicago
  • Cisco Systems Corp., San Jose, Calif.
  • Dell Computers Inc., Round Rock, Texas
  • Fujitsu Computers of America Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif.
  • Google Inc., Mountain ViewCalif.
  • Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Newark
  • Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash.
  • Sprint Nextel Corp., Reston, Va.
  • SureScripts Inc., Alexandria, Va.
  • WellPoint, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Wolters Kluwer Health Inc., Philadelphia


Healthcare providers acting as regional supporters:

Advocate Health Partners, Mount Prospect, Ill.

Brown & Toland Medical Group, San Francisco, Calif.

Delta Health Alliance/University of MississippiMedicalCenter, Stoneville, Miss.

GeorgeWashingtonUniversity Medical Faculty Associates, Washington, D.C.

Healthcare Partners Medical Group, Torrance, Calif.

Holston Medical Group, Kingsport, Tenn.

LSU Health Network, New Orleans, La.

MaineGeneral Health, Augusta, Maine

Novant Health, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Sierra Health Services and Southwest Medical Associates, Las Vegas, Nev.

UMass Memorial Healthcare, Worcester, Mass.

University of South Florida/USF Physicians Group, Tampa, Fla.