SOURCE: Surescripts

February 27, 2007 14:30 ET

Rhode Island Ranks High in Key Indicator for Patient Safety: Ranked #2 State in the Nation for Electronic Prescribing

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

PROVIDENCE, RI -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 27, 2007 -- Governor Donald L. Carcieri today accepted the Safe-Rx™ Award for Rhode Island ranking second 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.

"I am proud that Rhode Island is a leader in electronic prescribing. We are making great strides in transforming health care in our state, and this technology is another step towards achieving my vision of anytime, anywhere health information for all Rhode Islanders," Governor Donald L. Carcieri said. "Through electronic prescribing, we are improving patient safety, creating greater efficiencies within the health care system, and reducing costs."

Governor Carcieri then joined with leaders from the nation's community pharmacies to recognize three Rhode Island physicians for their outstanding efforts to improve patient safety and practice efficiency through the use of electronic prescribing technology. Drs. David Gorelick, Jayanthi Parameswaran and Ralph Earp -- all from Aquidneck Medical Associates in Newport -- were also honored with the Safe-Rx™ Award.

"Electronic prescribing improves efficiency and cost of managing prescriptions," said Dr. Gorelick.

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 Rhode Island's success is that, over the last three and a half years, Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island's Top 10 finish include the following efforts:

--  BlueCross BlueShield of Rhode Island - BCBSRI's "Quality Counts"
    incentive program encourages physicians to prescribe electronically.
--  LifeSpan - A not-for-profit health care system based in Providence,
    R.I., Lifespan has become a member of the National Council for Prescription
    Drug Programs (NCPDP) in order to affect priorities at the national level
    that will improve the efficiency of e-prescribing.  Lifespan has promoted e-
    prescribing to its clinics as a patient safety initiative because of its
    ability to do drug-drug and drug-allergy interaction checking, as well as
    providing legible prescriptions for patients.
--  Quality Partners of Rhode Island - Quality Partners provides
    healthcare professionals with the tools, consultation and reliable
    information to improve the quality of healthcare for consumers in Rhode
    Island and across the country. Quality Partners also encourages consumers
    to work with their providers to be as healthy as possible.  Quality
    Partners of Rhode Island co-chairs the E-Prescribing Committee whose charge
    is to identify and address opportunities and issues that will lead to
    statewide adoption and utilization of e-prescribing. Quality Partners has
    also worked with both chain and independent pharmacies to understand their
    needs and develop solutions.
--  Rhode Island Department of Health - The Department of Health, the
    Office of Health and Human Services and the Governor's Office, in
    collaboration with the Rhode Island Quality Institute, work with health
    care providers, quality improvement organizations, insurers and pharmacies
    on activities that draw attention to the value and safety that e-
    prescribing brings to Rhode Island's health care system.  Within state
    government, the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline at the Department
    of Health has issued a position statement supporting the adoption of e-
    prescribing.  Additionally, the Department of Health has required the
    adoption of health information technology, including e-prescribing, when
    approving applications from hospitals and other providers to build new
    infrastructure or services.
--  Rhode Island Quality Institute - The Rhode Island Quality Institute is
    an organization with broad-based community representation and continuing,
    CEO-level leadership with a mission to dramatically improve health care
    quality, safety and value in Rhode Island.  The RIQI has worked to place e-
    prescribing and the use of information technology at the top of the
    strategic agendas of organizations statewide.  The RIQI has focused
    attention, galvanized efforts and mobilized organizations statewide to take
    action to promote electronic prescribing.
    
"BCBSRI is deeply committed to supporting the health information technology infrastructure in Rhode Island; we believe that this will lead to significant improvements in the quality of care for our members and all of RI long term," said James Purcell, BCBSRI president and CEO. "We financially support local physicians who adopt and implement electronic health records into their practices. BCBSRI has worked collaboratively with the Rhode Island Quality Institute and other local organizations in this effort and it is paying off."

"Lifespan was an early adopter of e-prescribing. Currently about 400 physicians are e-prescribing approximately 5,000 prescriptions per month at our outpatient clinics," said George Vecchione, president and chief executive officer of Lifespan. "E-Prescribing is a valuable tool for patient safety, as it is known to prevent medication errors. It also provides greater convenience for our patients."

"This award is a great recognition of the public and private partnerships that have been formed in Rhode Island to work on this important issue. The partnerships, tools, and standards established during the adoption of e-prescribing will be a good foundation for the broader integration of health information technology in other related areas such as Long Term Care and Home Health," stated Jeff Newell, R.Ph., chief operating officer of Quality Partners of Rhode Island. "We all need to continue our collaborative efforts on this important work to ensure the improvements in quality, efficiencies and safety are realized."

"Electronic prescribing has the potential to improve the quality of patient care and increase the efficiency of the health care system. Electronic prescribing saves time for health care providers and eliminates illegible handwriting and other safety risks for patients," said Rhode Island Director of Health David R. Gifford, MD, MPH. "Working together, the Rhode Island community will continue to promote electronic prescribing as a tool to increase health care quality."

"Changing the way we do things is not always easy, but often, as in this case, worth it. I applaud all of the providers in Rhode Island who have taken steps to improve health care quality by instituting e-prescribing technologies," stated Jane Hayward, secretariat of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. "I would also like to congratulate our state agencies and community partners who have worked cooperatively to find ways to further increase Rhode Island's rate of electronic medication prescribing."

"This award is a testament to the RI health care community's commitment to delivering the safest care possible. It honors the efforts of the entire state, which is intensely focused on working together to improve care and save lives," said Laura Adams, president and CEO, Rhode Island Quality Institute. "We are very pleased to be recognized for our efforts by the pharmacy industry, which we consider one of our closest partners in this critically important work."

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 2,400 office-based physicians currently practicing and prescribing medications in Rhode Island reveals an opportunity for e-prescribing to significantly reduce the estimated $38 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/RI. 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 Rhode Island who are interested in finding out more about how electronic prescribing benefits them and their families can go to www.GetRxConnected.com/RI/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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