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Surescripts helps make e-prescribing an easy choice

BY DSN STAFF

ST. PAUL,, Minn. —More than 140,000 of all office-based physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the United States are transmitting prescriptions electronically, according to a nationwide e-prescribing network.

Surescripts said that at the current pace, the total number of active e-prescribers in 2009 will more than double the 74,000 at the end of last year. The latest number represents nearly a quarter of prescribers and shows how far e-prescribing and other health information technologies have come.

“E-prescribing is worthwhile for me because I can create a prescription in one-quarter of the time it took me previously, as it is automatically recorded into our system,” family physician Greg Fuller from Keller, Texas, said in a statement released by the company. “This is also very beneficial for tracking and managing potential drug interactions with other medications. Plus, it solves the age-old problem of illegible handwriting.”

More than 200 e-prescribing and electronic medical record systems are now connected to the Surescripts network, which the company said represented a 38% increase over the selection at the beginning of 2009. “Whether it is the convenience of making one trip to the pharmacy or receiving your prescription by mail, or the improved safety of legible prescriptions and providing doctors a more complete prescription history, or the savings that come from a patient and their doctor knowing about and selecting lower-cost prescription alternatives, the Surescripts network makes these benefits available to millions of patients cared for by more than 140,000 physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants nationwide,” Surescripts CEO Harry Totonis stated.

Prescribers use the network to link up with health plans and pharmacy benefit managers, confirming coverage and looking up such information as co-pays, generic alternatives to branded drugs and prescription histories. They then can send e-prescriptions to 84% of retail pharmacies or any of six mail-order pharmacies.

On the pharmacy side, adoption of health information technology likewise has been significant. “Chain pharmacy has been on the leading edge of the adoption of HIT for many years,” National Association of Chain Drug Stores spokeswoman Chrissy Kopple told Drug Store News. “We have been actively involved in fostering the use of technology to improve the quality of patient care and developing standards to allow the exponential growth of HIT in pharmacy practice.”

Similar changes have occurred among independent pharmacies. Judy’s Drug Store, which operates two stores in Petersburg and Moorefield, W.Va., adopted interactive voice response software at the beginning of the decade. Currently, IVR allows patients to submit prescriptions by phone 24 hours a day so that pharmacists can fill them the next morning. The latest generation of the software, which Judy’s plans to adopt, also allows physicians to place orders by phone. “IVR doesn’t take vacations or have a bad day,” Judy’s CEO and pharmacist Steve Judy told Drug Store News. “It doesn’t ask for time off.”

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Hy-Vee celebrates the other white meat

BY Alaric DeArment

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa A lot of people complain about pork barrel spending, but not Midwest supermarket chain Hy-Vee.

October is National Pork Month, and the West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee announced Friday that sales of the meat have increased more than 25% over October 2008. The chain said it was on track to increase pork tonnage by more than 30%.

 

“With pork prices the lowest they’ve been in more than a decade, we’ve focused our marketing efforts on promoting pork as a great value for consumers,” Hy-Vee assistant VP meat operations Kenan Judge said in a statement. “Today’s shopper is looking for nutritious, economical meal ideas, and pork perfectly fits the bill.”

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Patients prefer new diabetes drug Victoza over its competitor, survey finds

BY Alaric DeArment

MONTREAL A new diabetes drug satisfied patients more than its competitor, according to a study funded by the drug’s manufacturer.

According to data on 379 patients who took the Diabetes Treatment Satisfaction Questionnaires, presented Thursday at the 20th World Diabetes Congress and published in medical journal The Lancet, patients taking Novo Nordisk’s drug Victoza (liraglutide) perceived less abnormally low or high blood sugar levels — known respectively as hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia — than those taking Byetta (exenatide), made by Eli Lilly & Co., Amylin Corp. and Alkermes.

Victoza is approved in Europe, but Novo Nordisk is still waiting for approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.

“Liraglutide has shown here in a convincing study that it is associated with less nausea, less perceived hypoglycemia and definitely higher patient satisfaction compared to exenatide,” principal investigator Wolfgang Schmidt said in a statement. “Patient-reported outcomes data is an important extension of the efficacy data. If a patient is satisfied with his or her treatment, then they are much more likely to really stick to the treatment over the long term, which is necessary in Type 2 diabetes.”

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