To help ensure that insured patients take their medicine and prevent errors in reading prescriptions, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ; Newark, N.J.; $5.1 billion in revenue) is providing system physicians with the ability to prescribe medicines electronically through Allscripts Healthcare Solutions (Chicago) software. Horizon vendor partner IVANS (Old Greenwich, Conn.) is handling the implementation of the Allscript solution and will provide help desk support and billing services.
The project is part of Horizon's $5 million healthcare initiative designed to support physicians' use of technology, according to Dr. Richard Popiel, Horizon vice president and chief medical officer, who adds that many physicians are computer illiterate. Horizon's initiative, he says, is designed to help them become more comfortable with technology and help more technologically savvy physicians use medical software more efficiently.
Providing browser-based access to e-prescription programs is one of the pillars of the technology initiative, Popiel continues. In addition to Allscripts, Horizon also teamed with Caremark Rx (Nashville), Merck & Co. (Whitehouse Station, N.J.) and InstantDx (Gaithersburg, Md.) to provide e-prescribing capabilities to network physicians.
The e-prescription 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 patients' actual usage of the medicine. Physicians simply launch the e-prescription software, click on the drug and the amount, and the prescription is transmitted to the pharmacist.
"Enabling our physicians to send prescriptions directly to pharmacies is an important step toward greater patient safety and improved quality of care," Popiel says. He points to studies that show that 25 percent of patients never fill an initial prescription and nearly the same amount don't continue with a prescription that requires refills over the course of a year. Since patients no longer need to bring prescriptions to pharmacies and wait for them to be filled, Popiel explains, care is improved. Additionally, e-prescription programs improve efficiencies by eliminating time-consuming callbacks and requests for additional information, he adds.
The e-prescription programs send patient medication adherence information to physicians on a regular basis, Popiel adds. The programs also track the different medicines prescribed for a patient to help avoid averse drug interactions, he notes.