DrFirst expands hospital and physician customer base offering e-prescribing and practice management tools

Rockville 23 January 2002DrFirst.com Inc. and MedStar Health have signed an agreement for DrFirst to offer products and services to MedStar's community of physicians and health care facilities. Under this agreement, DrFirst will implement its Rcopia Network, which includes electronic prescribing, charge capture and secure messaging for physicians in a community-wide, integrated network which links to existing hospital information systems, at beta sites within MedStar Health. In addition, the Suburban Endoscopy Center, one of the most established outpatient centres for gastro-enterology procedures in the metropolitan Washington, DC area, has also joined the DrFirst.com network. The Suburban Endoscopy Center, a joint venture between the Suburban Hospital Healthcare System and several local physician practices, is subscribing to DrFirst's enterprise practice management software solution.


DrFirst began operations on January 1, 2000. During its initial two years, DrFirst perfected its suite of communication, business, and clinical solutions for physicians, clinics, hospitals, and health systems as part of its goal of connecting health care providers to hospitals and other business partners securely and remotely. The DrFirst product lines include:

  • Secure Messaging Exchange
  • Physician electronic medical records and practice management solutions
  • the Rcopia Network, including Web and PDA-based electronic prescribing, charge capture, and secure messaging functionality

DrFirst's original investors, impressed with the company's successful execution of its business model, have invested an additional $2,3 million in the company. DrFirst will use the financing to begin expansion of DrFirst's operations regionally as well as enhance its next generation product development.

MedStar Health selected DrFirst after extensive evaluation of PDA application vendors. MedStar Health is a large health care system based in Columbia in Maryland, with seven hospitals serving the Baltimore, MD-Washington, DC area. The initial phase of the project is to implement the electronic prescribing functionality of the Rcopia Network at the Georgetown University Student Primary Care Clinic and at MedStar Physician Partners at Union Memorial Hospital.

DrFirst's electronic prescription management system allows physicians to print, fax, or e-mail any prescription. The technology and functionality of Rcopia make the application ideal both for individual physician practices and as part of an enterprise system for larger health care organisations. One feature is RcopiaLink, which creates an interface to transfer patient demographic data between Rcopia and practice management systems which communicate via HL-7 standards. This eliminates the time consuming and error-prone task of entering patient demographic information into both the prescribing system and the practice management system.

An additional enhancement, RcopiaSync, allows physicians to create prescriptions any time, anywhere, on any desktop, laptop, wireless PC, or PDA. RcopiaSync allows physicians to write prescriptions off-line on handheld devices and electronically send encrypted prescriptions through the Internet with any cradle device or infrared (IR) port attached to a PC. This provides true flexibility for physicians to use Rcopia at the point of care, be it office, hospital, or home. Since the platform for Rcopia is DrFirst's Secure Messaging Exchange, all transactions are completed with top-level security.

The Suburban Endoscopy Center is subscribing to DrFirst's practice management system. This centre was incorporated in December 1994 and began performing procedures in May 1995. The centre has a group of a thirteen board certified physicians who practise at the facility. Annually, the centre sees more than 4000 patients and performs approximately 5000 procedures including esophago-gastro-duodenoscopies (EGDs or "upper endoscopies") and colonoscopies in its two procedure rooms.

DrFirst's Windows-based system can access different functionalities and capabilities from the same screen. The system provides a bridge between the scheduling and billing functionalities where there has historically been a gap. A full audit trail and change history allows all practices to benefit from the updates of others while still maintaining practice security and accountability. Insurance plans can be maintained and associated with employers, patients, and guarantors. The system includes the ability to create visits, post charges and transactions, consolidate billing by guarantor, and fully manage receivables, collections, and bad debt. It also manages the practice's financials through complete centralisation, decentralisation, or any combination. The system processes visits through the National Standards format and lets the practice know which claims have been processed successfully and which need corrections.

In addition to the standard features of the software application, DrFirst has enhanced the system for all of its members. During the implementation process, DrFirst incorporates correct billing procedures into the training which provide users with the ability to optimise the billing process. Prior to "go live", DrFirst provides its core set of basic daily, weekly, and monthly standardised reports to its members which can also be customised to serve the practice's particular needs. DrFirst also guides each practice through each step of the installation with minimal time and disruption to the practice's revenue cycle, including creating databases for providers with CPT-4 codes, ICD-9 codes, and insurance codes, and linking clearinghouses to the system to allow the practice to bill electronically.

DrFirst's members include prominent physician practices in the Washington, DC/Baltimore, MD region, such as new member Pulmonary Critical Care Associates of Baltimore. The company is currently expanding operations to physician clients in the South and Midwest. Pulmonary Critical Care Associates of Baltimore (PCCAB), consisting of 25 physicians, utilises the charge capture application in the DrFirst Rcopia Network. Like many other practices, PCCAB estimates that it loses significant revenue from lost or delayed charges. After evaluating the offerings of various companies, PCCAB selected DrFirst because of its technical expertise and responsiveness to client demands.

DrFirst.com delivers its products on both an Application Service Provider (ASP) and Distributive Solutions Provider (DSP) basis to provide the maximum flexibility to fulfil the diverse needs of health care providers. The backbone of DrFirst.com's products and services is its Secure Messaging Exchange (SMX) network, which permits secure messaging and transfer of information between users. DrFirst has developed a significant physician and hospital customer base during the past two years, focusing primarily on the mid-Atlantic region. DrFirst's members include more than 300 hundred physicians using services in its network.

Leslie Versweyveld

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