50,000 prescriptions changed this year as a result of drug alerts

August 2, 2007


The eRx Collaborative today announced that during the first six months of 2007, more than 2.6 million electronic prescriptions were transmitted through the Collaborative. This brings the 3 ½ year total of electronic prescriptions transmitted through Collaborative prescribers to 10.8 million. In addition, the eRx Collaborative deployed 296 new prescribers during the first half of the year, surpassing this year’s annual goal of 200 new prescribers.

The opportunity to catch potentially harmful drug-drug interactions or drug-allergy interactions is a hallmark safety feature of electronic prescribing. As of June 31, 2007, approximately 50,000 electronic prescriptions were changed due to drug safety alerts, 2.1 percent of the electronic prescriptions written.
In addition, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts this year earned the number one ranking at the second annual Safe-Rx Awards. The Safe-Rx Award is given annually by the nation’s community pharmacies to the top 10 e-prescribing states in the nation and to three physicians in each winning state who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in their use of e-prescribing technology. Massachusetts’ first-place ranking this year represents a jump from its third-place finish last year.

“Patient safety, significant error reduction, efficiency, less data entry and less repetitive work for our staff are just a few of the benefits that electronic prescribing has brought to our practice,” said Alberto Sobrado, M.D., of Merrimack Valley Physicians, one of the Safe-Rx Award winners in Massachusetts.
“Electronic prescribing is a low-risk and low-cost introduction to technology that will eventually be integral to electronic medical records, and I would recommend physicians consider Rcopia for their practice and their patients.”

Lorenver Po, M.D from Holyoke agrees about the benefits of e-prescribing. “We have been using PocketScript by ZixCorp through the eRx Collaborative since 2005, and we have found that almost every part of the entire prescription process could be streamlined and improved with the use of e-prescribing. While our staff was excited about improving time management, they were also excited to see how e-prescribing cut down on confusion and eliminated errors that used to arise when paper prescriptions were illegibly written or contained abbreviations.”
As a continued leader and industry advocate for e-prescribing technology, the Collaborative formed the MA eRx Steering Committee in 2005. This pioneering collaboration, which includes insurers, technology vendors, pharmacies and other organizations involved in the prescription process, has raised awareness of e-prescribing in the state, and is working together to increase adoption. Now facilitated by the MA Health Data Consortium and called the eRx Forum, the group is working to maximize eligibility checking, to explore the possibility of pre-adjudicating step therapy drugs through e-prescribing technology, and providing a Continuing Medical Education (CME) course.
“The eRx program demonstrates the power of collaboration and harnessing technology to improve the safety of medicine. Tufts Health Plan is proud to participate in the eRx Collaborative, as it brings together scientific evidence and information to support physicians and patients in the safe delivery of care,” says Allen Hinkle, M.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Tufts Health Plan.

“NHP is delighted and proud to complete another year as a participant in the eRx Collaborative. We hail the physicians who have embraced e-prescribing. We believe this not only rationalizes the medication prescribing and renewal process, but enhances its safety. Moreover we hope that these physicians’ patients recognize and value that they are receiving a higher standard of clinical care in the process,” said James Glauber, MD, MPH, Medical Director, Neighborhood Health Plan “BCBSMA is committed to improving patient safety and healthcare quality in Massachusetts through the eRx Collaborative. Our patient safety study with Dana Farber Cancer Institute to evaluate e-prescribing’s impact on quality, safety and affordability will be completed next year. We will continue to promote the adoption of e-prescribing by collaborating with other stakeholders in the state,” said Steven Fox, Vice President of Provider Relations and Communications at BCBSMA.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA), Tufts Health Plan and Neighborhood Health Plan (NHP) are members of the eRx Collaborative. The plans formed the Collaborative in 2003 to jumpstart the use of comprehensive e-prescribing technology in Massachusetts. The program offers physicians and other prescribing clinicians the ability to improve patient safety and increase healthcare affordability. The eRx Collaborative uses applications developed by Zix Corporation (PocketScript®) (NASD: ZIXI) and DrFirst (Rcopia™).
e-prescribers are able to access enhanced information when prescribing for patients in participating plans, such as patient eligibility and formulary information. In addition, the program enables prescribers to:

• Access patient-specific drug histories to determine the patient’s current and past prescriptions
• Create new and renew prescriptions electronically
• Send prescriptions for non-controlled substances directly to the pharmacy via fax or by Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and/or print the prescription to paper
• Receive renewal requests from the pharmacy electronically
• Check for drug-drug and drug-allergy interactions
• Access a drug reference guide

“ZixCorp’s strong four-year partnership with the eRxCollaborative continues to deliver tremendous results in saving lives and saving money. The eRx Collaborative has once again demonstrated that e-prescribing has a significant impact on the quality of care provided, as seen in changed or canceled prescriptions following an alert to a potentially dangerous adverse drug event,” said Rick Spurr, chief executive officer for ZixCorp. “The eRx Collaborative’s pioneering payor-sponsorship model continues to serve as a successful blueprint for other e-prescribing programs across the country. With prescriber surveys showing that funding and administrative hassles are the primary obstacles to the broader use of e-prescribing, it is clear that a high-touch payor-sponsorship model can accelerate the widespread adoption of this life- and cost-saving technology.”
“We believe e-prescribing is the biggest contributor to having a truly connected healthcare community,” said G. Cameron Deemer, President of DrFirst. “The eRx Collaborative was one of the original founders for innovative statewide e-prescribing initiatives, and we are proud to have been part of the success of the program. Moreover, their willingness to jointly invest in their members’ safety has paved the way for improved patient outcomes around the country.”

The eRx Collaborative continue to sponsor new prescribers, and evaluate the best way to expand awareness and adoption of e-prescribing in Massachusetts for this year and beyond. The Collaborative views e-prescribing as a foundation to future practice technology and has seen evidence of this through prescribers who have left the program to implement electronic medical records with e-prescribing functionality. A fully electronic practice is one of the pathways to reach the ultimate goal for healthcare: to improve patient safety, quality and delivery.
About the eRx Collaborative
The eRx Collaborative was formed by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA), Tufts Health Plan and Neighborhood Health Plan (NHP) with technology partners DrFirst, Inc and Zix Corporation (ZixCorp®), (Nasdaq: ZIXI), to collaboratively promote and enable the use of electronic prescribing in Massachusetts to improve patient safety, health care affordability, quality and delivery. For more information, visit our website

DrFirst also provides leading edge secure text messaging platforms.