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Primary Health Selects DrFirst to Introduce Electronic Prescribing to Physicians in Idaho

Pilot Program Initiated With Idaho Physicians Network (IPN)

August 22, 2006

Boise, ID and Rockville, MD- Primary Health Inc., a Boise insurance company, has selected DrFirst, the leading provider of electronic healthcare solutions for physicians, payers, and hospitals, to introduce Rcopia electronic prescribing to IPN, a physicians group in Idaho. DrFirst Rcopia is designed to produce legible and error-free prescriptions, reduce the number of phone calls and faxes between the physicians’ office and the pharmacy. The system also increases patient safety by incorporating automatic drug-to-drug and drug-to-allergy interaction checking at the point of care. DrFirst has already deployed Rcopia at five local physicians’ offices, and the pilot will continue for a year. After that, Primary hopes to launch a statewide patient safety initiative.

“It’s very easy to miss simple things such as a medication allergy or a potential drug to drug interaction” when doctors write out prescriptions, said Bill Jonakin, MD, a primary-care physician in Boise and president of the Idaho Physicians Network, which represents over 2,100 doctors across the state of Idaho. “Electronic prescribing is very helpful in averting the human source of errors.”

This pilot will be the first sponsored e-prescribing project in the state and represents a growing number of physicians who will utilize the broad pharmacy connectivity offered by electronic prescribing in their clinical decision making for patients, all while reducing the administrative workload related to ordering and dispensing prescriptions among physicians and pharmacists.

“Many practices, especially smaller ones with only two or three doctors, cannot afford the upfront costs of installing an electronic prescription system. By bearing most of the upfront costs we are effectively removing this barrier to use,” said Elwood Kleaver, Chief Executive Officer of Primary Health. “As we’re looking at a number of quality initiatives, this is one of the patient safety initiatives we wanted to launch in the community,” Kleaver said.

The program will reduce medication errors by allowing the physician to transmit the prescriptions electronically to community pharmacies and pharmacies to send electronic renewal requests back to the physician. Rcopia reduces the amount of time pharmacists spend on the phone each day checking the types of drugs and dosages prescribed and any other information doctors might have forgotten to write down.

“Automating the prescription process can enhance prescribing overall by improving patient safety, accuracy, efficiency, convenience and the quality of information at the point of care,” said Peter N. Kaufman, Chief Medical Officer at DrFirst. “These enhancements enable healthcare professionals to spend more time on patient care and less on time-consuming phone calls and faxes related to the prescription process.”

“The electronic format keeps a record of allergies, and if you try to prescribe something to which a patient is allergic, it alerts you to that,” Jonakin said. “It also alerts you to drug-drug interactions.”

DrFirst Rcopia offers an end-to-end electronic prescribing system that integrates patient eligibility and formulary information from Primary Health with medication history at the point-of-care.  Moving the prescription from paper to an electronic platform can greatly increase the safety and efficiency of the process.  According to the Institute of Medicine, medication errors harm at least 1.5 million people every year, according to a report released in July from the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences.  The report estimates treating drug-related injuries in hospitals alone cost about $3.5 billion a year.  Further, the Center for Information Technology Leadership estimates that more than 2 million adverse drug events annually and nationally could be prevented through electronic prescribing.

Physicians can use DrFirst Rcopia via the web on desktop, laptop and tablet PCs. Mobile implementation is powered by DrFirst Rcopia for Palm OS®, which integrates seamlessly with the web-based system to ensure full on-line and off-line functionality.

DrFirst also provides leading edge secure text messaging platforms.