USF, Allscripts head regional e-Rx project

April 10, 2009

University of South Florida and Allscripts push paper-free prescribing while touting the availability of stimulus funding for e-health.

The University of South Florida (USF) and corporate partner Allscripts are pushing regional e-prescribing.

“Our goal is to bring all physicians live on e-prescribing with a clear path toward upgrading to an EHR,” says Todd Stein, Allscripts spokesperson.This is an easy on-ramp to the EHR for physicians who want to capture stimulus funding, he says. Tampa will be the model for a national program that’s being prepared for rollout in three other regions: Pittsburgh, Hartford, Conn., and Iowa.

E-prescribing represents “a good start because of the huge cost-in dollars and human lives-of our current system of ‘scribbled’ prescriptions that are hand-delivered to the pharmacy,” according to Stein.

Another phase of the project is creating a workforce of “electronic-health ambassadors.” USF and Allscripts will train and employ a large group of ambassadors.

“Through our emerging health professions initiative, this will become a model for job creation in the burgeoning healthcare IT enterprise,” says Stein.

The final phase of the project will create physician and patient readiness for an electronic health environment.

“As a strong supporter of the adoption of healthcare information technology systems, such as e-prescribing and electronic medical records, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida applauds the coalition from USF Health, Allscripts and the Tampa Bay community as they build the PaperFree Tampa Bay initiative to drive improvements in quality and patient safety for Floridians by providing improved access to clinical decision support,” says Jonathan Gavras, MD, vice president and chief medical officer, BlueCross BlueShield of Florida.

Currently, an estimated 13% of U.S. doctors prescribe drugs electronically, but as many as 75% of U.S. doctors will be writing e-prescriptions within five years, according to a report prepared by healthcare research firm Visante for the Pharmaceutical Care Management Assn. The report projected adoption would increase to about 90% by 2018.

E-prescribing has been touted for preventing medical errors, but while there is no doubt that strategies to gain efficiencies and reduce medical errors are important, adherence is also key, according to Thomas Parry, PhD, president, Integrated Benefits Institute in San Francisco.

“Issues of adherence by patients and the impact on their health, their productivity at work and quality of life at home cannot be overlooked as we address necessary changes in the healthcare system,” Parry says. “We can develop very efficient systems to improve prescribing but if patients don't improve adherence-and most importantly improve their health-we won't be much better off.”