SOURCE: Surescripts

February 27, 2007 14:30 ET

Nation's Community Pharmacies Announce Key Indicator for Patient Safety in the U.S.: The Top 10 Electronic Prescribing States in the Nation

Massachusetts Earns No. 1 Ranking at Second Annual Safe-Rx Awards, Where Pharmacy Leaders Pay Special Tribute to Institute of Medicine for Research on Medication Errors

NEW ORLEANS, LA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 27, 2007 -- HIMSS Conference -- The nation's community pharmacies announced today that Massachusetts ranks first in the nation in electronic prescribing and recognized the state, along with nine others, as part of the second annual Safe-Rx Awards. Electronic prescribing, or "e-prescribing," is widely acknowledged as a means of enhancing patient safety. The Safe-Rx Award is given annually by the nation's community pharmacies to the top 10 e-prescribing states in the nation and to three physicians in each winning state who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in their use of e-prescribing technology. Massachusetts' first-place ranking this year represents a jump from its third-place finish last year.

"The Safe-Rx Award is well-deserved recognition for Massachusetts for its leadership in adopting cutting-edge technologies to reduce costs, avoid errors in prescribing drugs and increase efficiency in delivering care," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. "Information technology is transforming all aspects of our modern society, but few areas are more important than health care. The Safe-Rx Award recognizes the immense benefits of this technology, especially in protecting patient safety."

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 landmark report in July 2006 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The report, "Preventing Medication Errors," focused national attention on the causes of and possible remedies for 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.

In recognition of the Institute of Medicine's outstanding leadership on the issues of patient safety and preventable medication errors, the nation's community pharmacies today awarded it the Safe-Rx™ Evangelist Award. This award goes to a single person or organization whose advocacy has made an exceptionally positive impact on the awareness and prevention of medication errors. It is the highest honor presented on behalf of the nation's community pharmacies, whose work to improve communications between physicians, pharmacists and patients has led the nation toward a safer prescribing process.

"I am delighted that the Institute of Medicine is being honored for its work to promote patient safety," said Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine. "Medication errors can be devastating, and they can also be prevented -- with greater public awareness and the collaborative efforts of patients, pharmacists, nurses, doctors and others involved in delivering medical care. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association and SureScripts are to be commended for their efforts to promote best practices in prescribing."

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 last year's, go to http://www.surescripts.com/saferx.
**New to the top 10.
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 according to the number of prescriptions routed electronically in 2006 as a percentage of the total number of prescriptions eligible for electronic routing.

One of the keys to each of the top 10 states' early success has been the significant upgrades that community pharmacies in each of those states have made to their computer systems to allow physician practices to exchange prescription information with pharmacies electronically. With more and more medical practices getting connected, e-prescribing has proven to be a more efficient and safer alternative to the traditional paper-, phone- and fax-based prescribing processes.

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

There remains a sizable opportunity to increase the adoption and utilization of e-prescribing across the country -- including in all the top 10 Safe-Rx states. The realization of 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), use of 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 staffs 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 555,000 office-based physicians currently practicing and prescribing medications in the United States reveals an opportunity for e-prescribing to significantly reduce the estimated $8.7 billion worth of physician and staff time spent on the phone clarifying prescription information.

For Physicians

For more information about how to start prescribing electronically, physicians can go to www.GetRxConnected.com. The site includes an online tool designed to help physicians determine if their practices already possess the technology needed to establish a direct, two-way, computer-to-computer connection with their local pharmacies. Physicians can also call with questions about the assessment or about 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 more trips to the pharmacy to drop off prescriptions and no more illegible handwriting for pharmacists to interpret. Patients who are interested in learning more about how electronic prescribing benefits them and their families can go to www.GetRxConnected.com/patients. The Web site also features helpful advice about how patients can help their physicians "Get Connected" to their local community pharmacies.

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 store 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 lifesaving 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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