SOURCE: Surescripts

February 27, 2007 14:30 ET

Maryland Ranks High in Key Indicator for Patient Safety: Ranked #5 State in the Nation for Electronic Prescribing

Maryland Honored as Nation's Community Pharmacies Announce Second Annual Safe-Rx Awards

ANNAPOLIS, MD -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 27, 2007 --The community pharmacy industry today cited the state of Maryland and three prescribers who practice in the state for outstanding efforts to improve patient safety and practice efficiency through the use of electronic prescribing technology. Dr. Gul Chablani (Rockville), Dr. Howard Goldstein (Annapolis) and Jane Kim PA-C (Bethesda) were commended by leaders from community pharmacy with the Safe-Rx™ Award. Maryland finished fifth in the nation as part of the second nationwide review and ranking of electronic prescribing activity.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and SureScripts®, created the Safe-Rx Award to raise awareness of e-prescribing as a more secure, accurate and informed means of prescribing patients medication. This year's Safe-Rx Awards follow the release of a report in July of 2006 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that focused national attention on the 1.5 million preventable medication errors that occur in the United States each year. To prevent these errors and the injuries they cause, the IOM report made a series of recommendations, including one that all prescribers and pharmacies prescribe electronically by 2010.

"Electronic prescribing has played a key role in streamlining our practice," said Jane Kim, PA-C. "It has increased efficiency, productivity and accuracy of our prescriptions."

"E-Prescribing results in safety and efficiency," Dr. Goldstein said.

The Safe-Rx Awards are based on an analysis of data from new prescriptions and refill responses electronically transmitted over the Pharmacy Health Information Exchange™, operated by SureScripts. States are ranked by the number of prescriptions routed electronically in 2006 as a percentage of the total number of prescriptions eligible for electronic routing.

Top 10 E-Prescribing States: The Second Annual* Safe-Rx Award Winners

1.  Massachusetts
2.  Rhode Island
3.  Nevada
4.  Delaware
5.  Maryland
6.  Michigan
7.  North Carolina
8.  New Jersey**
9.  Ohio
10. Washington**
*For more information about the awards, and to see how this year's state rankings compare to the year before, go to www.SureScripts.com/SafeRx.

**New to Top 10

One of the keys to Maryland's success is that, over the last three and one-half years, Maryland pharmacies have made significant upgrades to their computer systems to allow physician practices to exchange prescription information with them electronically. With more and more physician practices getting connected, e-prescribing has proven to be a more efficient and safe alternative to the traditionally paper-, phone- and fax-based prescribing process.

Other critical factors contributing to Maryland's Top 10 finish include the following efforts:

--  Delmarva Foundation -- Delmarva Foundation (DF) is a national, not-for-
    profit organization with a mission to "improve health in the communities we
    serve." A current project involves providing support to primary care
    physicians to acquire and implement electronic health records, including e-
    prescribing programs.
--  CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield -- CareFirst supported the start-up and
    first year's subscription cost for an e-prescribing application for their
    highest volume physician providers.
    
"Electronic prescribing enables a physician to make dramatic improvements in the accuracy and safety of prescription medication therapy, while improving office workflow and patient convenience at the same time," said Michael Tooke, MD, Delmarva's chief medical officer.

"CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield is committed to providing quality healthcare. As part of our efforts to improve the quality and safety of health care, CareFirst supported the start up and the first year's subscription cost to the DrFirst e-prescribing tool for our highest volume physician providers," said Winston Wong, Pharm.D., CareFirst associate vice president for pharmacy management. "Physicians were able to use DrFirst for all their patients -- not just for CareFirst members. The initiative has proven successful in reducing potentially dangerous drug interactions and in saving money."

E-Prescribing's Growth Opportunity: Save Time, Dollars and Much More

There remains a sizable opportunity to increase e-prescribing adoption and utilization across the country -- including in all Top 10 Safe-Rx states. Realizing its full potential represents an unprecedented opportunity to improve patient safety and the efficiency of the prescribing process.

According to the Center for Information Technology Leadership (CITL), electronic prescribing systems with a network connection to pharmacy and advanced decision support capabilities could help prevent 130,000 life threatening medication errors annually.

By eliminating paper from the prescribing process, e-prescribing also has been proven to offer significant time-savings by eliminating the need for phone calls and faxes, allowing prescribers and their staff more time to care for their patients.

A study by the Medical Group Management Association's (MGMA) Group Practice Research Network (GPRN) estimated that administrative complexity related to prescriptions costs a practice approximately $15,700 a year for each full time physician on staff -- a figure that does not even take into consideration the time spent managing faxes. Multiplying that figure by an estimated 14,200 office-based physicians currently practicing and prescribing medications in Maryland reveals an opportunity for e-prescribing to significantly reduce the estimated $222 million worth of time spent annually by physicians and staff on phone calls clarifying prescription information.

For Prescribers

For more information about how to start prescribing electronically, prescribers can go to www.GetRxConnected.com/MD. The site includes an online tool designed to help prescribers, and their staffs, determine if their practice already possesses the technology to establish a direct, two-way, computer-to-computer connection with their local pharmacies. Prescribers can also call with questions about the assessment or electronic prescribing in general: 1-866-RxReady (1-866-797-3239).

For Patients

For patients, e-prescribing means a safer and more efficient prescribing process -- no more lost prescriptions, no trip to the pharmacy to drop off the prescription and no illegible handwriting for the pharmacist to interpret. Residents of Maryland who are interested in finding out more about how electronic prescribing benefits them and their families can go to www.GetRxConnected.com/MD/patients. The web site also features helpful advice on how residents can help their physician Get Connected to their local community pharmacy.

About NACDS

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) represents the nation's leading retail chain pharmacies and suppliers, helping them better meet the changing needs of their patients and customers. Chain pharmacies operate more than 38,000 pharmacies, employ 112,000 pharmacists, fill more than 2.3 billion prescriptions yearly, and have annual sales of nearly $700 billion. Other members include more than 1,000 suppliers of products and services to the chain drug industry. NACDS international membership has grown to include 80 members from 25 countries. For more information about NACDS, visit www.nacds.org.

About NCPA

The National Community Pharmacists Association, founded in 1898, represents the nation's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 24,000 pharmacies. The nation's independent pharmacies, independent pharmacy franchises, and independent chains dispense nearly half of the nation's retail prescription medicines.

About SureScripts

Founded by the pharmacy industry in 2001, SureScripts operates the Pharmacy Health Information Exchange™ which facilitates the secure electronic transmission of prescription information between physicians and pharmacists and provides access to life-saving information about patients during emergencies or routine care. Today, more than 95 percent of all pharmacies and all major physician technology vendors in the United States are certified on the Pharmacy Health Information Exchange. More information about SureScripts is available at www.surescripts.com.

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