Highmark eHealth Collaborative targets electronic
prescribing as first initiative for Pennsylvania physicians
PITTSBURGH, Nov. 2005 Kenneth R. Melani, M.D., Highmark Inc.
president and chief executive officer, announced today that Highmark
is contributing $26.5 million to The Pittsburgh Foundation, which
will use the funds for an electronic prescribing (ePrescribing)
initiative. The foundation has created the Highmark eHealth Collaborative
to encourage the adoption of health information technology used
in patient care in order to improve patient safety and quality
while increasing cost efficiency.
The first major project of the Highmark eHealth Collaborative
is to provide funding to physicians to help reduce the initial
cost of acquiring ePrescribing/eHealth Record technology for their
"One of the best ways to advance health care is to make a significant
investment in upgrading the infrastructure that puts the best
tools in the hands of physicians," said Dr. Melani. "The widespread
adoption of health information technology will improve patient
safety, increase quality of care and decrease costs."
An ePrescribing system can help ensure patient safety and reduce
medical expenses by eliminating handwriting interpretation and
administrative work associated with paper processing. This system
can also indicate medications that could adversely interact with
other drugs. It's been reported that 8.8 million adverse drug
events occur each year.
In addition, the ePrescribing system will allow physicians to
verify that a particular medication is on a patient's formulary
program and is covered for that patient. The ePrescribing tools
may be used by physicians for all their patients, regardless of
their insurance coverage.
A recognized national leader in health information technology,
the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) will receive
a total of $8 million to support the ePrescribing aspect of its
system-wide implementation of the electronic health record.
"The benefits of ePrescribing are that it will provide better
information to clinicians, so that they may safely order medication
for patients, and it will mean greater convenience for the consumer,"
said Daniel Martich, M.D., vice president, eRecord, UPMC. "We
at UPMC are appreciative of Highmark's financial support for this
part of our electronic health record enterprise."
Funding will be used to help physicians acquire and use electronic
technology systems such as a personal computer, a PDA, electronic
tablet or digital pen to generate and transmit electronically
a prescription to the pharmacy.
The ePrescribing initiative comes in direct response to needs
identified through the Highmark Health Care Cost Summit in 2004,
where -- working with the RAND Corporation -- physician, hospital,
business and community leaders convened to discuss health care
cost issues. The implementation of electronic prescription systems
and the adoption of electronic health records were identified
as top priorities.
To receive funding, physicians in Western and Central Pennsylvania
must first fill out an online application on the Highmark eHealth
Collaborative's Web site at http://www.highmarkehealth.org.
Physicians must be licensed to practice medicine in Pennsylvania
and must be a licensed prescriber in order to qualify for funding.
The collaborative will pay up to 75 percent of the cost for a
physician's office to acquire, install and implement the electronic
technology system, up to a maximum of $7,000 per physician, with
the physician's practice to pay the remaining balance.