SOURCE: Surescripts

February 27, 2007 14:30 ET

Nevada Ranks High in Key Indicator for Patient Safety: Ranked #3 State in the Nation for Electronic Prescribing

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

CARSON CITY, NV -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 27, 2007 -- Governor Jim Gibbons today accepted the Safe-Rx™ Award for Nevada ranking third in the nation for electronic prescribing. 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 three physicians within the winning states who have demonstrated outstanding leadership through their use of e-prescribing technology.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and SureScripts®, operators of the nation's Pharmacy Health Information Exchange™, 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.

"On behalf of the people of Nevada, I want to extend my appreciation to the physicians and pharmacists serving our state who have made the e-prescribing program such a tremendous success," Governor Jim Gibbons said. "This new technology better ensures that people receive the correct medication, which ultimately benefits our citizens, physicians and pharmacists."

Governor Gibbons then joined with leaders from the nation's community pharmacies to recognize three Nevada physicians for their outstanding efforts to improve patient safety and practice efficiency through the use of electronic prescribing technology. Drs. Roosevelt Watson (Las Vegas), Evangelia Papageorge (Las Vegas) and Anjali Rege (Las Vegas) were also honored with the Safe-Rx™ Award.

"Electronic prescribing is an efficient and essential part of any practice with electronic medical records," said Dr. Papageorge. "It cuts back on faxing."

"I no longer have to worry about my patients' receiving incorrect medication due to poor handwriting," said Dr. Watson. "The speed and accuracy is light years ahead of what we did or had available in the past."

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

--  Sierra Health -- Sierra Health Services, the largest managed care
    company in Nevada, has been recognized as a leader in the application of
    technology to improve health care, both within its own operations and
    within the healthcare community in Nevada.  Starting in 2005, Sierra
    collaborated with the Clark County Medical Society to fund e-prescribing
    software for every provider in the State of Nevada.  As a result, Sierra
    was listed among the InformationWeek 500 most innovative users of business
    technology in 2006.
--  Southwest Medical Associates -- In 2003, Southwest Medical Associates'
    (SMA) leadership realized the tremendous strategic advantages of the use of
    electronic health records in the clinical setting. With the commitment of
    SMA's physician leadership, the organization has been able to identify
    champions and super users who helped SMA to communicate the importance that
    the organization placed upon the adoption of e-prescribing.  Through
    training, education and incentive plans, physicians were introduced to the
    technology.  Within three months SMA began to see that the physicians saw
    the benefits of e-prescribing in terms of fewer mistakes, communication of
    formulary alternatives, drug interactions and quicker turn around time for
    prescriptions.  Patients also began to give the physicians positive
    feedback about e-prescribing which help to improve compliance with its use.
    
"Sierra Health Services, Inc. recognized the potential for e-prescribing to streamline the prescription process and improve the safety for our patients back in 2001 when e-prescribing was first introduced within our wholly owned physician group known as Southwest Medical Associates," said Bob Schaich, vice president, information systems and CIO, Sierra Health Services. "As the largest multi-specialty physician practice in the state of Nevada, Southwest Medical Associates wrote nearly 1 million electronic prescriptions during 2006. We are proud that Nevada and Southwest Medical Associates have been recognized for their leadership in e-prescribing."

"In light of national attention on medical errors, escalating drug costs and significant workflow issues related to medication management, Southwest Medical Associates selected electronic prescriptions as its highest priority. Southwest Medical Associates firmly believes that improved patient safety and efficient service are critical issues for our patients when selecting a physician and a health plan," said Dr. Craig Morrow, medical director, primary care for SMA. "The implementation of e-prescribing and other modules of the electronic medical records has taken several years and was fraught with major challenges but has now become an integral part of patient care for physicians at SMA. Our electronic health records not only store all clinical information but enable the physician to coordinate the delivery of all aspects of patient care. Our electronic health record has proven indispensable to the recruitment and retention of both physicians and patients. They both realize that electronic technology represents a quantum leap forward in high quality medical care."

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 3,700 office-based physicians currently practicing and prescribing medications in Nevada reveals an opportunity for e-prescribing to significantly reduce the estimated $58 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/NV. 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 Nevada who are interested in finding out more about how electronic prescribing benefits them and their families can go to www.GetRxConnected.com/NV/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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