SOURCE: Surescripts

June 09, 2008 08:49 ET

The Nation's Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants Join With Physician Leaders in Latest Expansion of Provider-Led Electronic Prescribing Initiative

AANP and AAPA Join AAFP, AAP, ACC, ACOG, AOA and MGMA in Helping More Prescribers Start E-Prescribing Before January 1, 2009 Medicare Deadline

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - June 9, 2008) - The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) today announced their participation in "Get Connected," a new program designed to help more of the nation's prescribers begin sending prescriptions to pharmacies electronically. The program aims to help thousands of prescribers comply with new Medicare rules scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2009 -- rules that require all computer-generated prescriptions covered by the Medicare Part D program to be transmitted electronically.

The focal point of the Get Connected program is an online portal -- www.GetRxConnected.com -- where prescribers can follow a step-by-step process designed to help them transition from paper-based prescribing to e-prescribing. In the three months since the program's launch, over 1,700 practices representing 13,000 prescribers have used GetRxConnected.com to begin the transition from paper prescriptions to e-prescriptions.

"Moving nurse practitioners to electronic prescribing is an essential step toward improving the quality of patient care," said Mona Counts, PhD, CRNP, FNAP, FAANP and president of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. "E-prescribing reduces errors and the opportunity for adverse drug interaction events. What many prescribers may not know is that it also saves a great deal of time and improves the efficiency of prescribing for both provider and patient. As the largest national professional organization for nurse practitioners of all specialties, representing the interests of the 125,000 practicing NPs in the country, AANP will help spread the word about the many benefits of e-prescribing."

"Electronic prescribing enhances the safety of the patient by optimizing the communication between the physician assistant and the pharmacist," said Greg Bennett, M.A., PA-C and president of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. "E-prescribing also helps prescriber decision-making by having vital information such as medication history, patient allergies, and drug treatment options immediately available at the point of care. AAPA is happy to be a partner with the Get Connected program and aid the over 68,000 PAs in clinical practice to better help their patients."

Electronic prescribing, or "e-prescribing," replaces the need for handwritten, printed or faxed prescriptions and is seen as a more accurate and efficient means of prescribing medications. And because it is paperless, e-prescribing is also regarded as a secure alternative to paper prescriptions which can be stolen, copied, forged and otherwise manipulated.

In addition to the AANP and AAPA, Get Connected is supported by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

Created under the auspices of The Center for Improving Medication Management (founded by the AAFP, Humana Inc., Intel Corporation, the MGMA and SureScripts), GetRxConnected.com contains urgent information and guidance for an estimated 150,000 prescribers located throughout the U.S. that are currently using electronic medical record (EMR) and other clinical software to fax prescriptions to pharmacies. Computer-generated faxing of prescriptions not only prevents prescribers from achieving the gains in practice efficiency and patient safety associated with e-prescribing, but starting on January 1, 2009, all computer-generated prescriptions covered by the Medicare Part D program must be transmitted electronically and not via computer-generated fax. (Important Note to Prescribers Using EMRs: Most EMR users believe that they already send prescriptions to pharmacies electronically -- i.e., they are unaware that it is far more likely that their EMR is generating faxes that arrive on paper at the pharmacy's fax machine. These computer-generated, faxed prescriptions will not be in compliance with the new Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) Part D regulations.)

Through GetRxConnected.com, prescribers and their staffs can find out if the software brand and version they are using is certified to generate e-prescriptions compliant with the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) SCRIPT standard as required by the new Medicare regulations. The SCRIPT standard facilitates the electronic transmission of prescriptions and prescription-related information. Following the completion of a brief self-assessment, visitors to GetRxConnected.com can receive a free, personalized report that indicates the compliance status of their existing software and that can be used to request an electronic connection to pharmacies through their vendor.

The Get Connected program is equally intended for prescribers and practice management professionals who have yet to invest in EMR or other clinical software. The portal provides guidance on how to evaluate and acquire technology that supports e-prescribing. GetRxConnected.com also helps prescribers and practice management professionals to assess the financial impact of e-prescribing using an interactive feature that allows them to calculate an estimate of the time and resources their practice is currently dedicating to the manual processing of prescriptions.

Does My Healthcare Provider E-Prescribe?

Patients can use LearnAboutEprescriptions.com to easily find out if their healthcare provider is currently e-prescribing. The Web site is part of a larger patient education campaign launched recently inside pharmacies throughout the United States. As of April 29, 2008, the front doors and counters of 26,000 pharmacy locations nationwide feature new signs indicating "e-prescriptions filled here" while another invites patients to "give your prescription a head start." All physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners using e-prescribing solutions that are connected to the Pharmacy Health Information Exchange are encouraged to participate by going to www.surescripts.com/PatientAwareness and downloading their own signage for display in their practice. Practices also have the option of purchasing printed signage in English and Spanish.

By going to LearnAboutEprescriptions.com and simply typing in their ZIP code, patients can quickly discover which healthcare providers in their community e-prescribe. For a patient whose healthcare provider is not currently e-prescribing, the Web site allows them a unique opportunity to educate their provider about e-prescriptions and direct them to www.GetRxConnected.com.

E-Prescribing: An Opportunity to Save Time, Dollars and Lives

There remains a sizable opportunity to increase the adoption and use of e-prescribing nationwide. Although SureScripts estimates that more than 100 million prescription transactions will be routed electronically in 2008, that number represents only 7 percent of eligible prescriptions (see The National Progress Report on E-Prescribing at www.surescripts.com/report). The realization of e-prescribing's 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, use of electronic prescribing with an electronic 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, and particularly by automating prescription renewals, e-prescribing has been proven to offer significant time savings by reducing prescription-related phone calls and faxes, allowing prescribers and their staffs more time to care for their patients. A study by MGMA's Group Practice Research Network estimated that administrative complexity related to prescriptions costs practices $15,700 a year for each full-time physician -- that does not even take into consideration the time and cost of managing faxes.

About the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners

The AANP was founded in 1985 and is the oldest, largest and only full-service national professional organization for nurse practitioners of all specialties. AANP represents the interests of approximately 125,000 nurse practitioners around the country. AANP continually advocates for the active role of nurse practitioners as providers of high-quality, cost-effective and personalized health care. For more information about AANP, visit www.aanp.org.

About the American Academy of Physician Assistants

AAPA is the only national organization to represent physician assistants in all medical and surgical specialties. Founded in 1968, the Academy works to promote quality, cost-effective health care, and the professional and personal growth of PAs. For more information about the Academy and the PA profession, visit AAPA's Web site, www.aapa.org.

Physician assistants are licensed health professionals who practice medicine in partnership with physicians. The over 68,000 PAs in practice in the U.S. deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services to diverse patient populations in all health care settings. PAs provide the full spectrum of patient care services such as diagnosis and treatment of illness, preventive health care, surgical procedures, and medication prescription.

About The Center for Improving Medication Management

The Center for Improving Medication Management serves as an industry resource by gathering and disseminating best and worst practices related to technology deployment for electronic medication management and for leveraging that technology and connectivity to test innovative approaches to improve patient adherence with prescribed medications. The Center was founded by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), Humana Inc., Intel Corporation, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) and SureScripts. More information about The Center is available at www.theCIMM.org.

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