SOURCE: Surescripts

February 27, 2007 14:30 ET

Michigan Ranks High in Key Indicator for Patient Safety: Ranked #6 State in the Nation for Electronic Prescribing

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

LANSING, MI -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 27, 2007 -- The community pharmacy industry today cited the state of Michigan and three physicians who practice in the state for outstanding efforts to improve patient safety and practice efficiency through the use of electronic prescribing technology. Drs. John Connors (Warren), Surjeet Singh (Livonia) and Viorel Lupu (Taylor) were commended by leaders from community pharmacy with the Safe-Rx™ Award. Michigan finished sixth in the nation as part of the second nationwide review and ranking of electronic prescribing activity. Michigan's sixth place ranking this year represents a jump from its tenth place finish last year.

"The use of electronic prescribing for prescription medications has never been more important," said Governor Jennifer Granholm. "By utilizing this technology we can save dollars for patients and improve the quality of health care here in Michigan."

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.

"GM has been proud to be part of the partnership collaborating on e-prescribing efforts in Southeast Michigan," stated Janice Uhlig, GM executive director, health care. "Improving patient safety, efficiency and increasing the use of generic drugs are the kind of improvements needed in America's health care system."

"E-Prescribing improves patient safety," said Dr. Singh. "It is quick and patients love it."

"Electronic prescribing represents an important step forward in patients' care and safety," said Dr. Lupu.

"E-Prescribing is a great benefit to patients in many ways," said Dr. Connors. "It enhances patient safety by alerting prescribing physicians of possible drug interactions and provides cost savings to patients by informing prescribing physicians about generic alternatives and preferred medications on a patient's medical insurance."

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 Michigan's success is that, over the last three years, Michigan 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 Michigan's Top 10 finish include the following efforts:

--  Health Alliance Plan -- In 2005, the Health Alliance Plan (HAP), a
    subsidiary of the Henry Ford Health System, piloted a major electronic
    prescribing initiative at the request of the Big Three automakers --
    General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler -- to cut
    prescription costs and improve quality. Today, the entire Henry Ford
    Medical Group uses e-prescribing. More than 150,000 prescriptions have been
    changed due to early detection of drug-to-drug interactions and more than
    11,000 prescriptions have been changed due to drug/allergy warnings. HAP
    partnered directly with providers in a way that minimized the impact on
    their ongoing clinic operations and maximized the value they would realize
    from e-prescribing by providing the necessary clinic process design,
    training and ongoing technical administrative support.
--  Southeast Michigan ePrescribing Initiative (SEMI) -- Since February
    2005, General Motors, Ford Motor Company and DaimlerChrysler Corporation,
    along with Health Alliance Plan (HAP), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
    (BCBSM), Medco Health Solutions and a variety of technology vendors have
    partnered to drive the adoption of e-prescribing in Southeast Michigan
    through incentives, information and implementation support.
    
"We at HAP are proud to be involved as a catalyst and pacesetter in a collaborative program that has proved its worth to members and patients, providers and employers. All of us must work together -- businesses, the health care industry and consumers -- to find solutions to controlling health care costs," said Matt Walsh, associate VP of purchaser initiatives at Health Alliance Plan, a subsidiary of Henry Ford Health System. "E-Prescribing is a real life example of a collaboration that's contributing to higher quality and a more cost-effective delivery system in Michigan."

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 16,200 office-based physicians currently practicing and prescribing medications in Michigan reveals an opportunity for e-prescribing to significantly reduce the estimated $254 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/MI. 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, wo-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 Michigan who are interested in finding out more about how electronic prescribing benefits them and their families can go to www.GetRxConnected.com/MI/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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