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Led By Auto Initiative, Michigan No. 2 In E-Prescribing

According to the results of a new nationwide report on electronic prescribing, the state of Michigan is second in the nation in its use of electronic prescriptions, based on the total number of e-prescriptions routed in Michigan in 2009 -- nearly 11.3 million. 

The driving force behind the state's embrace of ePrescribing is physicians participating in the Southeast Michigan E-Prescribing Initiative (SEMI), a program started in 2005. The number of e-prescribers per capita is 2.3 times greater in the seven-county SEMI area than elsewhere in Michigan.

The findings are part of the annual Safe-Rx Awards announced Sept. 21 by Surescripts, which operates the country's largest e-prescribing network and annually publishes state rankings and progress reports detailing e-prescribing adoption and use. 

Kathleen Neal, director of integrated health care and disability at  Chrysler Group LLC, who is also the company's representative on SEMI's steering committee, said: "Our continual climb in the Safe-Rx rating system recognizes the success the SEMI program has experienced over the past few years and speaks volumes to the safety measures physicians in Michigan are taking through the use of e-prescriptions. Through SEMI's support enabling the use of e-prescribing, physicians are now able to increase patient safety and reduce costs for consumers and employers."

Michigan received the Safe-Rx Award, finishing second among the top 10 e-prescribing states in the nation, rising from third place in 2009.

This year's Safe-Rx Awards were awarded to the 10 states that excelled in three essential steps of the electronic prescribing process: prescription benefit, history and routing. From 2008 to 2009, Michigan's e-prescribing volume increased by 230 percent from 4.9 to 11.3 million. In addition, the state ranked first in providing prescription benefit information during the patient visit and fourth among all states providing ePrescribers with medication histories. Since Surescripts began presenting the Safe-Rx Awards in 2006, the state has steadily climbed up the rankings from 10th in the initial analysis.

As of Aug. 31, SEMI had more than 5,500 participating physicians.  Since the program began in January 2005, ePrescribing physicians in the SEMI area have generated more than 23 million prescriptions using ePrescribing systems or electronic health records. 

A previous analysis conducted in December 2009 of 12.4 million prescriptions written by SEMI physicians since the program began found the following:

* A severe or moderate drug-to-drug alert was sent to physicians for more than 3.5 million prescriptions, resulting in nearly 1 million of those prescriptions being changed or canceled by the prescribing doctor
* Physicians received nearly 334,000 medication allergy alerts
* Nearly 1.5 million lists of dispensed prescription histories were downloaded by physicians
* When a formulary alert was presented, 33 percent of the time the physician changed the prescription to comply with formulary requirements

"As a physician whose patients expect nothing but the highest quality of care, ePrescribing is an invaluable addition to our practice," said Mark Kelley, M.D., CEO of the 1,200 member Henry Ford Medical Group. "The benefit of drug-drug interaction alerts and having access to patients' medication history enables our practice to keep patients safe by reducing adverse drug events."

As physician adoption has increased, the goal of widespread adoption of e-prescribing is now in reach. During the SEMI pilot, a survey found that three out of four prescribers believe strongly that ePrescribing improves safety for their patients, and nearly 70 percent say it improves the quality of care. 

One of the important benefits of e-prescribing cited by physicians is the safety alerts that warn of potentially harmful drug-drug interactions and drug-allergy risks at the time of prescribing. Nearly 65 percent of physician e-prescribers reported at least one incident of changing a prescription in response to a safety alert received through the system – a strong statistic demonstrating that e-prescribing can help prevent dangerous and costly adverse drug events.

SEMI was launched to promote e-prescribing among physicians in Southeast Michigan by a coalition including General Motors, Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), Chrysler Group LLC, the United Auto Workers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Health Alliance Plan, Henry Ford Medical Group, Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) and CVS Caremark Corp. (NYSE: CVS).

Earlier this year, SEMI was presented with the inaugural 2010 Health Information Technology Innovation Leadership Award. The goal of the 2010 HIT Innovation Awards is to raise awareness of HIT use and recognize the professionals, organizations and facilities that have advocated or supported the advancement of HIT and Health Information Exchange (HIE) within the state of Michigan.

Physicians interested in joining SEMI may call (800) 722-8979 for more information.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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