Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Medco Leads the Way in ePrescribing for Medicare Part D

This wire release is a few days old, but strengths my belief in Medco as a positive force in the dirty world of PMBs. Granted they had net revenue of $42 BILLION in 2006, and they wouldn't do anything that doesn't improve their bottom line, but sometimes, big companies do good things. Well, this could be a good thing if they prove it increases profits and they roll out the program! This leads me to another point which is doctor's doling out medications in the office. I have never been to an MDs office that fill scripts, but I think this would greatly reduce medication errors as well.

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J., Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- As Congress
considers a bill that would tie physicians' Medicare payments to their use
of ePrescribing technology, Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) today
announced the launch of a national initiative to assist physicians of
Medicare Part D patients in switching from hand-written to electronically
generated prescriptions. The pilot program will also be used to study the
impact of ePrescribing on patient safety, increased generic drug use and
formulary compliance on the Medicare population.

"There is strong evidence that ePrescribing reduces medication errors
and increases the use of generic drugs and other lower-cost medication
options. We are proud that Medco will be the first Medicare prescription
drug plan (PDP) to research its impact on the Medicare population," said
John Driscoll, president of new markets at Medco. "The program is designed
to overcome the cost barriers that have prevented widespread physician
adoption of this technology and to verify the benefits of ePrescribing for
Medicare Part D beneficiaries."

Initially the study will include 500 physicians currently treating
enrollees in the Medco Medicare Prescription Plan(TM). Medco -- working
with RxNT, a leading provider of ePrescribing technology - will provide
these physicians with free RxNT ePrescribing software and training. Over a
six- month period, the physicians' rate of generic drug dispensing,
formulary compliance and generated safety alerts will be compared to a
control group of 500 doctors who did not receive ePrescribing software or
training. Ultimately, 2,000 doctors, primarily general practitioners and
internists, will participate in the ePrescribing program.

Advantages of ePrescribing

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates that
nationally, use of e-Prescribing technology could eliminate as many as two
million harmful drug events each year. The benefits of ePrescribing
technology include reducing potentially harmful drug interactions by
alerting physicians to possible risks and eliminating illegible physician
hand-written prescriptions that can lead to medication dispensing errors.
Additionally, ePrescribing has been shown to promote the use of generic
drugs and increase formulary compliance, saving money for both patients and
health plans. Despite these benefits, only about three percent of U.S.
physicians actively use ePrescribing technology.

Medco Leads the Way on ePrescribing

This is Medco's second major ePrescribing effort. In 2005, Medco joined
forces with the three largest U.S. auto companies - General Motors, Ford
and Chrysler - to launch the Southeast Michigan ePrescribing Initiative
(SEMI). Between 2005 and 2007, approximately 2,700 participating physicians
have generated nearly 6.2 million prescriptions using ePrescribing

A recent analysis of SEMI found that ePrescribing substantially
improved patient safety by alerting physicians of risks related to drug
interactions and other potential medication errors and resulted in a
significant number of prescription changes that prevented potential adverse
events. Formulary compliance also improved. The review of 3.3 million
electronic prescriptions showed:

-- A severe or moderate drug-to-drug alert was sent to physicians for more
than 1 million prescriptions (33 percent), resulting in nearly 423,000
(41 percent) of those prescriptions being changed or canceled by the
prescribing doctor;
-- More than 100,000 medication allergy alerts were presented, of which
more than 41,000 (41 percent) were acted upon; and
-- When a formulary alert was presented, 39 percent of the time the
physician changed the prescription to comply with formulary

"The SEMI program results show that ePrescribing can have a big impact
on patient safety and overall health care costs," continued Driscoll.
"Medicare Part D provides the right opportunity to introduce many more
physicians to ePrescribing, a key step toward improving patient safety for
this critical segment of the population and reducing the cost of
prescription health care in the Medicare program."

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