US health insurer Independence Blue Cross has invested $1 million in e-prescribing tools in a bid to reduce drug prescribing errors and lower pharmacy costs.
The health insurer is rolling out handheld electronic prescribing technology to physicians in Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey in line with the states’ ambitions to build a statewide electronic patient data network that is tied into a nationwide system.
Independence Blue Cross (IBC) says physicians who participate in the pilot will be provided handheld computers, software and training so they can fill and refill prescriptions electronically. Each doctor will be able to use a PDA to view a patient’s drug history, get information about each patient’s insurer’s list of preferred drugs, find out about prescription benefits, and read a state-of-the-art drug guide. Doctors will also be able to check for drug interactions and allergies with a PDA.
IBC says it has selected two vendors for its 12-month e-prescribing pilot program, e-communication service provider ZixCorp, and clinical software provider, AllScripts. Approximately 500 physicians will participate in the pilot, and IBC has invested over $1 million to deploy the e-prescribing tools, including computers and software, to these physicians. If successful, IBC is expected to expand the pilot further.
Joseph Frick, IBC president and CEO, said, By moving the prescription process from paper to electronics, we can offer physicians and members a more convenient and efficient way of filling and refilling prescriptions. But more importantly, e-prescribing can reduce adverse drug interactions and medication errors due to illegible handwriting.