E-prescribing effort revs up

By Patty Enrado
12:00 AM

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s ePrescribe program, announced in mid-January, is off to a healthy start with 27 physicians in the process of having electronic prescribing technology installed in their offices. Other practices are signaling their intent to participate as of the first of February.

With more physician practices expressing interest, BCBSNC may well reach its department and corporate goal of having 1,000 physicians in the program by year’s end.

The ePrescribe program follows a similar model employed by the eRx Collaborative in Massachusetts in that BCBSNC is funding the technology and setup for the first six months of operation. But the health plan is offering a unique subsidy structure that provides financial incentives for both the provider and technology vendor for the next six months of the program.

Certain utilization goals will be required of providers to continue to receive the free subscription, and financial incentives to its eRx vendor, DrFirst, which works directly with the physician groups, will provide positive reinforcement during the period where adoption typically either increases or decreases dramatically.

Of the 1,000 invitations planned to be sent out to its network physicians, BCBSNC is targeting primary care physicians because they see most of the health plan’s members, said Ron Smith, PharmD, senior director of corporate pharmacy for BCBSNC.

Smith said the program is designed to help physicians engage in a more proactive dialogue with their patients at the point of care to address issues in a timely fashion, such as more cost-effective prescription drug choices.

“Electronic prescribing is one way to hold down healthcare costs by giving doctors a tool that will help them comply with a patient’s health plan drug formulary, and increase the accuracy and safety of the drug-prescribing process,” Smith said. “Giving providers greater information about their members equals superior outcomes.”

“This program is unique in that we have seen greater hands-on investment by BCBSNC than we have seen from a single health plan in the past,” said Cameron Deemer, senior vice president and general manager at DrFirst. “BCBSNC understands their role as a thought leader, and are truly propelling acceptance of this new technology forward towards greater acceptance by physicians and increasing public demand as a standard of care.”