Initiative Adds Critical Patient Safety Solution to Iowa Health System’s HealthNet connect network
DES MOINES, Iowa, Oct. 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Iowa’s largest integrated health care system and the nation’s largest provider of electronic prescribing software today announced the launch of an initiative to convert a majority of the state’s physicians from paper prescriptions — known to be the cause of costly medical errors — to electronic prescribing.
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The new partnership between Iowa Health System and Allscripts (Nasdaq: MDRX), called ePrescribe Iowa, will offer a free Web-based e-prescribing solution to physicians throughout Iowa. Less than three percent of all prescriptions written in Iowa in 2008 — the last year for which statistics are available — were produced using e-prescribing software, according to Surescripts, a company that connects prescribers in all 50 states to pharmacies and the nation’s leading payers.
ePrescribe Iowa also is a component of HealthNet connect, Iowa Health System’s 3,200-mile fiber-optic network that stretches from Denver to Chicago. It is a first step toward a larger goal of implementing connected Electronic Health Records (EHR), the technology at the center of President Obama’s effort to improve health care quality and reduce costs.
ePrescribe Iowa automates the process of writing prescriptions and transmitting them to pharmacies while alerting physicians to potentially dangerous drug-to-drug interactions, drug allergies, dosage errors and other problems that can occur when writing prescriptions on paper. The stand-alone solution provided by Iowa Health System and Allscripts also provides physicians a simple way to transition from paper medical records to a full Electronic Health Record, software that automates everyday clinical tasks such as ePrescribing and connects physician practices with other key health care stakeholders including insurance companies, laboratories and hospitals.
Iowa Senator Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, a leader in state health care reform, voiced his support for the initiative at a news conference announcing the program at Iowa Health System offices in Des Moines.
“By combining the information sharing capabilities of HealthNet connect with free e-prescribing to enhance patient care and safety, Iowa Health System and Allscripts are taking an important step toward realizing President Obama’s vision of an interconnected health care system,” Sen. Hatch said.
“Physicians understand that the electronic health revolution is upon us and we must change our old habits of practicing medicine on paper,” said Joel Waymire, M.D., Walnut Creek Pediatrics. “Electronic prescribing is an easy fix for our current system of handwritten prescriptions that are hand-delivered to the pharmacy, and a relatively easy first step to adopting a full electronic health record.”
Bill Leaver, President and Chief Executive Officer of Iowa Health System, added: “Writing prescriptions electronically is a key means of enhancing the quality and safety of patient care, and Iowa Health System is proud to offer the first program to provide this life-saving technology to every Iowa physician at no cost, along with the connectivity needed to make it work in the most remote rural facilities.”
“By adding significant new capabilities to HealthNet connect, this offering will help accelerate Iowa Health System’s efforts to connect urban and rural health care facilities and enable better care – the core mission of Iowa Health System,” Leaver said. “Additionally, this statewide e-prescribing will help physicians take an important first step toward the adoption of fully connected electronic health records.”
Glen Tullman, Chief Executive Officer of Allscripts, the country’s leading provider of Electronic Health Records, called this statewide e-prescribing offering “the first statewide program to provide physicians with the information and connectivity they need, free of charge, to begin the journey toward safe, efficient 21st century electronic care. Iowa Health System has created a model for the entire nation to help physicians quickly and easily transition from paper-based care to electronic health records and in so doing take advantage of federal incentives for their adoption.”
National Incentives for EHR and ePrescribing
Federal law empowers the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to pay physicians between $44,000 and $64,000 over five years, beginning in 2011, for deploying and using a certified Electronic Health Record to care for patients. ePrescribe Iowa plans to serve as an on-ramp for physicians to a full Electronic Health Record. In addition, federal law already provides approximately $3,500 in annual financial incentives for doctors who e-prescribe now and will impose penalties on those who do not e-prescribe beginning in 2012.
Currently, fewer than one-in-four U.S. physicians write prescriptions electronically, according to Surescripts. This Iowa Health System plan will aim to get physicians on board by providing Allscripts Web-based electronic prescribing free of charge to any Iowa physician and offering personalized outreach and one-on-one training by “electronic health care ambassadors” to help physicians make the transition.
“We expect the combination of HealthNet connect, Allscripts, onsite training, and new Medicare incentives will eliminate the obstacles and provide an on-ramp to electronic healthcare highway and encourage Iowa physicians to embrace electronic prescriptions,” Tullman said. “This initiative has the potential to transform the entire state into one in which all prescriptions can be electronically transmitted to the pharmacy, delivering a simple yet comprehensive solution to a key public safety issue.”
1.5 Million Medication Errors per Year
According to an Institute of Medicine study, 1.5 million Americans are injured each year and 7,000 die from preventable medication errors. The authors of the 2006 study recommended that all U.S. physicians adopt electronic prescribing by 2010. They cited benefits of e-prescribing that include eliminating errors due to illegible handwriting, creating electronic records to ensure prescription information is not lost, checking for allergies and potentially dangerous drug interactions, and reducing costs by improving efficiency and identifying less-expensive drug options.
Innovative, Software as a Service Solution
The electronic prescribing solution provided by Allscripts is a Web-based solution that requires no download, or new hardware and less than 30 minutes of training before first use. The product, currently used by prescribers nationwide to write millions of prescriptions annually, can quickly generate secure electronic prescriptions and deliver them to the patient’s pharmacy of choice.
The statewide e-prescribing program is the latest in a series of partnerships between Iowa Health System and Allscripts. Iowa Health System currently has 559 physicians in 117 clinics using Allscripts as their Electronic Health Record (EHR). The health system also has deployed Allscripts Emergency Department Information System (EDIS) in 11 of its hospitals and urgent care clinics to automate emergency room operations. The EDIS solution also enables ER physicians to view critical patient information stored in their physicians’ Electronic Health Record, making it easier for them to deliver emergency care.
HealthNet connect, one of the first networks of its kind in the nation to receive funding from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Rural Health Care Pilot Program, enables secure information connectivity between hospitals, patient clinics and a variety of other health care entities. The fiber optic network provides a resource to share health information between participants throughout Iowa and western Illinois, particularly in remote rural areas. Currently 28 hospitals have been connected in phase one of the program. HealthNet connect also is available to private clinics, physicians, pharmacies, medical laboratories, insurance providers and other organizations in the health care delivery cycle.
About Iowa Health System
Iowa Health System is a community-based organization of physicians, hospitals, civic leaders and local volunteers who share a vision of affordable, accessible health care. Created in 1995, Iowa Health System is the state’s first and largest integrated health care system. Iowa Health System operates facilities in seven large Iowa communities and Rock Island and Moline, Illinois, supports a system of rural hospitals in 14 Iowa communities and partners with physicians and clinics in more than 80 communities in Iowa and western Illinois. Iowa Health System includes the group practices of Iowa Health Physicians, Partners in Health, Children’s Hospital Physicians, St. Luke’s Clinic Network, Trimark Physicians Group and Trinity Physicians Group. Approximately 450 physicians and allied providers serve patients across Iowa and western Illinois through these clinics. To learn more, visit www.ihs.org.
Allscripts uses innovation technology to bring health to health care. More than 160,000 physicians, 800 hospitals and nearly 8,000 post-acute and homecare organizations utilize Allscripts to improve the health of their patients and their bottom line. The company’s award-winning solutions include electronic health records, electronic prescribing, revenue cycle management, practice management, document management, hospital care management, emergency department information systems and homecare automation. Allscripts is the brand name of Allscripts-Misys Healthcare Solutions, Inc. To learn more, visit www.allscripts.com.
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