SOURCE: Surescripts

February 27, 2007 14:30 ET

New Jersey Ranks High in Key Indicator for Patient Safety: Ranked #8 State in the Nation for Electronic Prescribing

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

TRENTON, NJ -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 27, 2007 -- The community pharmacy industry today cited the state of New Jersey 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. James J. Hakim (New Providence), Dr. Richard G. Olarsch (Wildwood) and Susan Midili N.P. (Pennsauken) were commended by leaders from community pharmacy with the Safe-Rx™ Award. New Jersey finished eighth in the nation as part of the second nationwide review and ranking of electronic prescribing activity. New Jersey's eighth place ranking this year represents a jump from its seventeenth place finish last year.

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 prescriptions have changed the way I practice medicine and have greatly benefited the way my patients receive medical care. My patients have the additional safety and convenience that can only be achieved through an electronic interface," said Dr. Olarsch. "As a prescriber, I am empowered. Now I can instantly check drug-to-drug interaction, new prescriptions against known allergies and sensitivities, and insurance coverage by formulary tier group. I can recall patient drug records remotely (away from the office) and am able to forward the information either to an emergency room or to a specialist. This saves lives. My patients are empowered as well. I can print a clean copy of a prescription list every time I make a change, so people know exactly what they are supposed to be taking. We have no more old, torn up lists misspelled with multiple cross-outs and write-ins which more often than not have old dosage amounts."

"I have found e-prescribing beneficial to my patients in terms of convenience and safety, in terms of preventing medication errors," said Dr. Hakim.

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

--  Aetna -- is sponsoring an e-prescribing pilot in the Northeast,
    including New Jersey, in which an e-prescribing vendor provides physicians
    with devices that enable them to process prescriptions electronically. The
    company also recently became a national sponsor of a coalition dedicated to
    improving patient safety by providing free access to secure electronic
    prescribing for every physician in America.
--  Horizon BlueCross BlueShield -- Horizon BCBSNJ has partnered with
    three e-prescribing vendors to provide participating physicians the
    electronic prescribing system best suited to their needs.  To try to
    overcome traditionally slow physician adoption rates, Horizon BCBSNJ
    employed innovative marketing approaches; a physician "medical bag"
    containing information on E-prescribe and chocolate PDAs were mailed to
    targeted physicians.
    
"Aetna is committed to promoting increased patient safety by providing tools and information to members, and facilitating technology solutions for health care professionals," said Thomas Howe, MD, Aetna New Jersey medical director. "Electronic prescribing can reduce medication errors by helping physicians communicate more accurate information in a timely way, in addition to increasing efficiencies in their offices."

"Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey's highest priority is ensuring that our members receive the best medical care possible," said Dr. Richard Popiel, vice president and chief medical officer, Horizon BCBSNJ. "A critical area of focus for Horizon BCBSNJ is the use of technology, such as electronic prescribing, to reduce medical errors and improve patient safety. Over the last several years we have worked hard to educate doctors on the benefits of electronic prescribing. We are proud that our efforts have resulted in New Jersey being ranked 8th in the nation in our rate of electronic prescribing. Horizon BCBSNJ's commitment to using the latest technology to improve patient safety will reduce medical errors, will reduce the cost of treating those medical errors, and will ultimately make healthcare more affordable and safe."

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 18,800 office-based physicians currently practicing and prescribing medications in New Jersey reveals an opportunity for e-prescribing to significantly reduce the estimated $295 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/NJ. 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 New Jersey who are interested in finding out more about how electronic prescribing benefits them and their families can go to www.GetRxConnected.com/NJ/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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