United States' capital welcomes its first electronic prescription

Washington D.C. 17 January 2007SureScripts, operators of the Pharmacy Health Information Exchange, has achieved that the first prescription has been transmitted electronically from physician to pharmacist in the United States' capital. Less than one month after the Washington, D.C. Board of Pharmacy adopted new rules making electronic prescribing legal, a D.C.-based Rite Aid pharmacy became the first to receive and process a new prescription electronically from a D.C.-based physician.

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"Utilizing e-prescribing is a huge benefit for our patients, our pharmacists and our physician partners", stated Phil Keough, senior vice president of pharmacy operations for Rite Aid. "E-prescribing improves accuracy, eliminates unnecessary phone calls and faxes to physician offices and, most importantly, allows our pharmacists to spend more time counseling their patients, answering their questions, and ensuring their compliance with medication therapy."

The announcement follows last July's release of a report 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.

"These new rules present an opportunity for patients and physicians in the District of Columbia to enter a new era of medication safety, enabled by health information technology", stated Dr. Peter Basch, a practising internist and medical director for eHealth at MedStar Health in Washington, D.C. "Electronic prescribing has been shown to reduce medication errors caused by illegible prescriptions, improper dosing, and drug interactions. We see e-prescribing as part of any health system's approach to make high quality care even better."

"Many physicians, like myself, practice in or see patients from Maryland, D.C. and Virginia and it has been difficult to deal with different rules for each jurisdiction in recent years", stated Dr. Alan Zuckerman, a paediatrician practising in the District of Columbia. "When we use electronic prescribing tools today, prescriptions travel directly to the pharmacy computer system in some locations, but, unfortunately, are turned into a fax in others. The changes to the D.C. electronic prescribing rules to allow direct electronic prescriptions is a most welcome change that will help accelerate adoption of electronic prescribing and help achieve critical benefits in patient safety and quality."

To capitalize on this new opportunity for safer and more cost efficient prescribing, SureScripts, operators of the Pharmacy Health Information Exchange, is working closely with community pharmacies throughout the United States' capital to immediately activate previously certified computer systems for electronic prescribing. SureScripts has certified the software solutions being used by more than 95 percent of the United States' retail pharmacies. As a result, the great majority of the Washington, D.C. area's 113 retail pharmacies can now begin e-prescribing. Once activated, community pharmacies in the District will be able to receive new prescriptions from physicians directly into their pharmacy computer systems - instead of by fax or handwritten prescription. The same applies to prescription refill requests, which can now be sent from pharmacies to physicians electronically - no faxing or phone calls required.

"CARE Pharmacies is pleased that the D.C. Board of Pharmacy has approved the use of e-prescribing for pharmacies", stated Gerry Serody, CEO and chairman, CARE Pharmacies Inc. "We feel strongly that this technology will be extremely important for the practice of pharmacy in the twenty first century."

"When the nation's community pharmacies founded SureScripts in late 2001, we began building the technical capability in our network to support e-prescribing between physicians and pharmacists anywhere in the nation", stated Ken Whittemore, senior vice president of clinical practice integration for SureScripts. "At that time, however, there were only a dozen states with laws and regulations that would even allow electronic prescribing. A little over five years later, we are proud to announce that Washington D.C. has joined with 48 other states that allow their physicians and pharmacists to electronically exchange life-saving prescription information."

Founded by the pharmacy industry in 2001, SureScripts operates the Pharmacy Health Information Exchange which facilitates the 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 company news is available in the VMW July 2006 article OA Systems completes SureScripts certification for electronic prescribing connectivity between physicians and pharmacies.


Leslie Versweyveld

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