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U.S. healthcare IT leaders form new alliance for ePrescribing

SAN FRANCISCO – Accelerating the adoption of ePrescribing is the goal of a new healthcare industry initiative – Café Rx – formed by nine of the nation’s leading healthcare IT solution providers.

The new coalition, whose founding members include Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, Capgemini, Cisco Systems, HP, Microsoft, the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP), NDCHealth, RxHub and SureScripts, was announced in August at the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs’ (NCPDP) Educational Forum in San Francisco.

ePrescribing – the ability for a physician to electronically submit a “clean” prescription directly to a pharmacy from the point of care – has been widely viewed as a critical element in improving the quality of patient healthcare and reducing medication errors.

In fact, developing standards to facilitate ePrescribing was one of the key action items in the government’s plan to expedite the adoption of electronic medical records and build a national electronic health information infrastructure in the United States. The report was prepared by David J. Brailer, MD, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

“Café Rx will promote and support real-time connectivity between physicians, payors, pharmacy benefit managers and retail pharmacies through vendor-neutral platforms and solutions,” noted Donald Gravlin, vice president, and chief technology officer for Capgemini Health’s payor practice. “We view ePrescribing as an essential step in the migration to the comprehensive automation of clinical processes.”

To encourage the adoption of ePrescribing, Café Rx will provide payors and physicians with successful strategies and best practice models; offer extensive information on ePrescribing through its Website (; launch a program to educate physicians and their office staffs about the value of ePrescribing; and support lobbying efforts that urge federal and state governments to incent the adoption of ePrescribing and electronic medical records.

“We applaud the leadership of Café Rx and its efforts to move the industry forward in this important arena,” said Janet Marchibroda, CEO of eHealth Initiative, a non-profit multi-stakeholder organization that has been leading the charge for the improved quality, safety and efficiency in healthcare through greater use of information technology. “Based on the tremendous benefits that ePrescribing delivers to all the key stakeholders, as learned from our National Electronic Prescribing report release earlier this spring, it is experiencing increased acceptance, but we still have a long way to go.”

The adoption of ePrescribing will benefit patients, physicians and pharmacists by significantly decreasing medication errors, reducing the incidence of adverse drug reactions, saving physicians and pharmacists valuable time now spent on non-clinical administrative tasks, and enabling payers to improve formulary program compliance – collectively saving millions of dollars while potentially increasing patient and physician satisfaction.

The bulk of the over 3.7 billion prescriptions issued last year were still written manually, generating the need for an estimated 150 million phone calls from pharmacists to physicians’ offices for clarification on handwriting, dosing and other issues. Up to 40 percent of prescriptions require reworking at the retail pharmacy before they are dispensed to the patient, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Medication errors are currently responsible for an estimated 7,000 deaths per year in the United States, and approximately $77 billion is spent annually on treatment of adverse drug events.

Emerging support for ePrescribing by large payors is an important part of the equation. One promising initiative expected to help break down the barriers to ePrescribing is WellPoint Health System’s Physician Quality and Technology Initiative (PQTI).

The program includes a $40 million investment in providing physicians with new technology in the form of handheld devices and computers for clinical use. “We see ePrescribing as an excellent opportunity to create a foundation for deployment of information technology solutions in the clinical environment, while delivering significant value in its own right,” said Dr. Charles Kennedy, M.D., vice president of clinical informatics at WellPoint.

Membership in Café Rx is open to all healthcare IT solution providers that agree to support the group’s guiding principles. The following organizations are the founding advisors to Café Rx:

• Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, a leading U.S. provider of clinical software, connectivity and information solutions that physicians use to improve healthcare, including electronic prescribing and electronic medical records.

• Capgemini, a leading healthcare consultancy in the U.S. and Canada, provides global professional services consulting, technology and outsourcing to the healthcare industry.

• Cisco Systems, a worldwide leader in networking technology, provides networking solutions for the healthcare community that enable both business and clinical transformation.

• Hewlett-Packard, dedicated to deploying technology and business solutions, is committed to transforming the health ecosystem through innovation and collaboration focused on improving individual wellness.

• Microsoft, which offers a comprehensive range of solutions, platforms and technologies used throughout the health ecosystem.

• National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP), an ANSI accredited Standards Development Organization with over 1400 members representing all parties interested in electronic standardization within the pharmacy services sector.

• NDC Health, uniquely positioned in healthcare as the leader in point-of-care systems, electronic connectivity and information solutions to pharmacies, hospitals, physicians and payers.

• RxHub, which connects the prescribing industry and provides doctors and providers with formulary access, patient medication eligibility and medical history.

• SureScripts, which completes the electronic highway by connecting retail pharmacies with physician offices via their technology applications offering electronic prescribing, is dedicated to improving the quality, safety and efficiency of the prescribing process.

More information about Café Rx and its guiding principles is available at