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Phil Britt
Phil Britt
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Horizon Implements e-Prescription Apps

IVANS helps carrier implement Allscripts Healthcare Solutions application as part of a larger effort to encourage technology competence among physicians.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ), Newark, is providing system physicians with the ability to prescribe medicines electronically through Allscripts Healthcare Solutions (Chicago) software, which Horizon sources say will help ensure that insured patients continue to take their medicine and will help to prevent errors in reading prescriptions.

Horizon vendor partner IVANS. Inc. (Old Greenwich, Conn.) will handle the ordering and installation process of the Allscript solution, as well as provide help desk support and billing services.

The initiative is part of Horizon's $5 million healthcare initiative designed to aid physicians in obtaining and using technology, according to Dr. Richard Popiel, Horizon vice president and chief medical officer.

Many physicians are computer illiterate, Popiel says. The initiative is designed to help them become more comfortable using technology as well as help the more technologically savvy physicians use medical software more efficiently. Providing browser-based access to e-prescription programs is one of the pillars of Horizon's technology initiative.

In addition to Allscripts, Horizon also has teamed up with Caremark Rx, Inc. (Nashville, Tenn.), Merck & Co. (Whitehouse Station, N.J.), and InstantDx (Gaithersburg, Md.) to provide e-prescribing capabilities to network physicians.

These applications enable physicians to use PDAs, wireless devices, laptops or desktop computers to enter prescriptions, helping to avoid problems with misreading of prescriptions by pharmacists and enabling physicians to better track a patient's actual usage of the medicine.

The physician simply pulls up the e-prescription software and clicks on the drug and the amount, which is transmitted to the pharmacist. If the physician prints out the prescription for any reason, it's typed rather than in difficult-to-read handwriting, Popiel adds.

"Enabling our physicians to send prescriptions directly to pharmacies is an important step toward greater patient safety and improved quality of care," Popiel says, adding that these programs improve efficiencies by eliminating time-consuming callbacks and requests for additional information.

The quality of care improves because the patient no longer needs to bring the prescription to the pharmacy and wait for it to be filled, according to Popiel, who points to national studies showing that some 25 percent of patients never follow through with this initially, and nearly the same amount don't continue with a prescription requiring refills over the course of a year.

The e-prescription programs send patient medication adherence information to physicians on a regular basis. The programs also track the different medicines prescribed for a patient to help avoid averse drug interactions, Popiel adds. According to the Institute of Medicine, Washington, D. C., adverse drug events are the fourth-leading cause of death and cost as much as $136 billion annually.

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