Health plans jump on the e-prescribing bandwagon

April 19, 2005

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is the latest health plan to provide support to physicians who shift to electronic prescribing, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger. Doctors have been slow to embrace e-prescribing because it costs them money and time while most of the benefits accrue to health plans, pharmacies, office staff and patients.

However, health plans are realizing that they can generate a high return on investment by providing financial support for e-prescribing. Plans like e-prescribing because it improves formulary compliance and use of generics by presenting information at the point of care. It’s also good for patients, because it reduces errors from sloppy handwriting and allows checking for drug-drug interaction and allergies. And it helps cut down on phone calls and paperwork for prescription renewals.

E-prescribing is also a good first step to prepare doctors for electronic medical records. And when e-prescribing, electronic medical records and claims systems are fully integrated, physicians will be able to rely on decision support systems to analyze all the information about a patient’s medical record and insurance coverage to suggest the most efficacious and cost effective treatments. I recently saw a very impressive demonstration of such a system from SafeMed, which is being piloted by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston.

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