By Neil Versel
April 29, 2008 | Expect to see “E-prescriptions filled here” and “give your prescription a head start” signs at thousands of pharmacies nationwide starting today as part of a first-ever nationwide consumer campaign to raise awareness about the availability and benefits of electronic prescribing.
Led by ePrescribing connectivity network provider SureScripts (Alexandria,Va.), a coalition of health care, technology and retail organizations on Tuesday is hoping the campaign will jump-start patient demand for the technology, which SureScripts says was used for less than 3 percent of the more than 1.4 billion retail prescriptions filled in the U.S. last year. SureScripts, which runs the Pharmacy Health Information Exchange, says only 6 percent of U.S. physicians can send true electronic prescriptions.
This estimate counts only prescriptions transmitted by electronic data interchange, not by fax. Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) changed the definition of ePrescribing under Medicare Part D to exclude computer-generated faxes. Faxed orders from ePrescribing programs for Medicare beneficiaries essentially will become illegal on Jan. 1, 2009.
“The next time you or anyone you know goes to the doctor’s office and the doctor takes out their pad and pen to write a prescription, take the opportunity to ask your doctor for an ePrescription instead,” SureScripts chief marketing officer Tammy Lewis says in a statement provided to Digital HealthCare & Productivity ahead of today’s program introduction in Washington.
In addition to the signage, the campaign includes an informational Web site, www.LearnAboutEprescriptions.com, for the public to search for names of local physicians with ePrescribing in place. The site also lets the public e-mail or print out information for their doctors to learn about the time savings and error reduction that ePrescribing can bring.
Indeed, the groups are promoting ePrescribing as a way to avoid two trips to the pharmacy, one to drop off a script and another to pick up the medication. “The opportunity to eliminate unnecessary trips and reduce time spent at the pharmacy can make a huge difference,” says Lewis, who has three children 9 or younger. “I know what it’s like to have a sick child in the back seat in need of medication.”
Lewis was to be joined at the Washington event by representatives from national and regional pharmacy chains, including CVS Caremark, Wal-Mart, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Longs Drugs, and Kerr Drug. The program also has support from the AARP, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, and the National Community Pharmacists Association. The latter two groups co-own SureScripts.
SureScripts has hinted at this consumer-awareness program since late last year. (See “Hutchinson Steps Down as SureScripts Top Exec, Ratliff Moves Up.”) Since that time, SureScripts joined with the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Medical Group Management Association, technology giant Intel, and health insurer Humana, to found the Center for Improving Medication Management and produce an ePrescribing readiness assessment for physician practices. That assessment, available at www.GetRxConnected.com, now has the support of additional physician organizations.