SOURCE: Surescripts

February 27, 2007 14:30 ET

Washington Ranks High in Key Indicator for Patient Safety: Ranked #10 State in the Nation for Electronic Prescribing

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

OLYMPIA, WA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 27, 2007 -- The community pharmacy industry today cited the state of Washington 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. David Merkley (Richland), Dr. Lon Madsen (Spokane) and Stephen Laughlin PA-C (Richland) were commended by leaders from community pharmacy with the Safe-Rx™ Award. Washington finished tenth in the nation as part of the second nationwide review and ranking of electronic prescribing activity. Washington's tenth place ranking this year represents a jump from its sixteenth place finish last year.

"We are very proud of the vendors and pharmacies who worked so hard for this national SafeRx Award," said Governor Christine Gregoire. "It's great when a solution not only improves patient safety but also reduces costs and frustrations for physicians, pharmacists and their staff."

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.

"E-Prescribing helps workflow and efficiency," said Dr. Merkley. "This technology has helped us to manage our patients' medications."

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
**New to Top 10
One of the keys to Washington's success is that, over the last three years, Washington 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 Washington's Top 10 finish include the following efforts:

--  OneHealthPort -- OneHealthPort was created by a coalition of health
    plans, physicians and hospitals that joined together to build a trusted
    community where business and clinical information could be shared securely
    and simply.  OneHealthPort manages the Medication Information eXchange
    (MIX) -- a collaborative community-wide program to make medication history
    and benefit information available to healthcare providers.
--  Whatcom Health Information Network, LLC -- Four practices in Whatcom
    County have participated in an e-prescribing pilot and have learned a great
    deal about the issues and challenges of a community-wide enterprise
    installation.  Whatcom Health Information Network, LLC (HInet) understands
    that using any software must fit with the practice workflow, which requires
    process changes and intensive go-live support.
"OneHealthPort actively encourages the adoption of e-prescribing within our trusted community," said Rick Rubin, president and CEO of OneHealthPort. "We applaud the efforts of some of our partners who are key contributors to Washington State's success. ChartConnect, DrFirst, Premera Blue Cross, Regence BlueShield and the Health Care Authority all deserve credit for the leadership they have demonstrated."

"Electronic prescribing offers benefits throughout the continuum of care, from hospital medication reconciliation, to large and small practices, and even individual patients themselves. By connecting the prescribers, pharmacies and payers, it makes the right information available at the right place and time," said Lori Nichols, director of HInet. "Electronic prescribing is a perfect entry point to the EMR realm for small practices as a cost-effective way to improve workflow efficiencies, patient safety and regulatory compliance. It can also help make a later transition to a fully functional EMR more valuable. Electronic prescribing can help avoid duplicate therapies and the dangers associated with incomplete medication information. In addition to those benefits, for practices with an EMR system, electronic prescribing at the community level can make critical information available across the continuum without costly interfaces to multiple systems. Electronic prescribing can also streamline workflow for pharmacists and providers by reducing fax transactions. And it can increase safety and convenience for patients by preventing medication conflicts, facilitating formulary adherence and connecting with their personal health record."

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 12,400 office-based physicians currently practicing and prescribing medications in Washington reveals an opportunity for e-prescribing to significantly reduce the estimated $195 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 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 Washington who are interested in finding out more about how electronic prescribing benefits them and their families can go to The web site also features helpful advice on how residents can help their physician Get Connected to their local community pharmacy.


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

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

Contact Information