PHARMACY

E-prescriptions hit 4 million mark at Walgreens in October

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens pharmacies, which have used electronic prescribing since 1992, filled a record 4 million prescriptions electronically in October, about 22% of all the drug store chain’s eligible prescriptions, which is a 185% increase compared with October of last year.

Walgreens estimated it will fill more than 45 million electronic prescriptions in 2009, compared with 15 million filled in 2008. The company expected growth to continue with help from financial incentives in the federal stimulus package, which encourage hospitals, doctors and others to adopt electronic health records, a core component of which is e-prescribing.

”With the federal stimulus package providing $19 billion in incentives to adopt electronic health records, doctors will gain easier access to software that makes electronic prescribing possible,” said Don Huonker, Walgreens SVP healthcare innovation.

“Continued growth in e-prescribing will help meet the goals of healthcare reform,” Huonker said. “In addition to lowering costs for doctors and pharmacies, electronic prescribing makes it more likely that patients will get their prescriptions filled, benefit from their drug therapy and avoid more expensive medical procedures. E-prescribing also reduces the medication errors and adverse drug events that cost the healthcare system billions of dollars per year. And by eliminating the need to call a doctor’s office to verify a prescription, e-prescribing provides pharmacists more time to focus on drug interactions, the right dosing and patient consultation.”

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Walgreens, Take Care Health Systems celebrate National Nurse Practitioner Week

BY Allison Cerra

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. One of the nation’s largest drug store chains and its retail clinic division are applauding healthcare professionals during National Nurse Practitioner Week.

National Nurse Practitioner Week, which is held from Nov. 8 to Nov. 14, is sponsored by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. A 2009 RAND study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine notes that such retail health facilities as Take Care Clinics offer treatment of common ailments at a substantially lower cost than physician offices, urgent care centers and emergency rooms while providing equal or better levels of care quality. Employer-based health and wellness centers typically provide a two to four dollar return on investment for employers who utilize them while improving the health and well-being of employee populations, according to Take Care Health Systems data.

“Nurse practitioners and other front-line healthcare providers are a vital part of Walgreens vision to provide greater access to high-quality, affordable health care that is convenient to communities where people work and live,” said Hal Rosenbluth, Walgreens SVP and president of Walgreens health and wellness division. “Both the advanced clinical education and holistic patient-centric focus which are synonymous with the nurse practitioner profession have served as a catalyst for care delivery innovations that have become a key component of the solution to the nation’s healthcare crisis.”

 A wide array of healthcare professionals, including nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physicians, nurses, medical assistants, pharmacists, physical therapists, fitness and health coaches, x-ray technicians and others practice at Take Care Health facilities. The company is dedicated to empowering all health care professionals in an effort to address national healthcare challenges while creating paramount patient experiences.

“Unprecedented patient engagement scores and exceptional clinical outcomes at Take Care Clinics are a testament to the skill and ability of nurse practitioners to delight, treat and advocate for patients,” said Sandra Ryan, chief nurse practitioner officer for Take Care Health Systems. “Healthcare professionals across the country are relishing the opportunity to be a part of healthcare delivery models that challenge the status quo while improving access for all.”

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URL Pharma’s gout treatment now available

BY Alaric DeArment

PHILADELPHIA A new drug for treating gout flares has become available.

URL Pharma announced the availability of Colcrys (colchicine), designed to prevent and relieve pain from acute flares of gout, a form of arthritis caused by buildups of uric acid that is deposited as needle-like crystals in the joints and soft tissues.

The Food and Drug Administration originally approved Colcrys in July to treat gout flares, approving it in October to prevent them. The drug is available in the form of 0.6-mg tablets designed to be taken twice a day.

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