Publix Joins Florida's ePrescribe Collaborative

LAKELAND, Fla. Publix became part of a statewide effort to promote the adoption of electronic prescribing capabilities in Florida this month. As a member, we act in an advisory capacity in helping to get the word out about using electronic prescribing to the physician community, said Maria Brous, spokeswoman for Publix. Called the ePrescribe Florida Collaborative, the group was founded by three major

LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix became part of a statewide effort to promote the adoption of electronic prescribing capabilities in Florida this month.

“As a member, we act in an advisory capacity in helping to get the word out about using electronic prescribing to the physician community,” said Maria Brous, spokeswoman for Publix.

Called the ePrescribe Florida Collaborative, the group was founded by three major health plans in December of 2006: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Jacksonville; Humana, Louisville, Ken.; and AvMed, Gainesville, Fla.

Since then, it has gained members from among hospitals, medical associations, technology vendors and retail pharmacies, including: Winn-Dixie Stores, Jacksonville; Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark.; and Walgreen Co., Deerfield, Ill.

Electronic prescribing lets doctors securely incorporate patient medical information, health plan formulary, patient eligibility and medication history with the patient's prescription. This information is then available to health plans and pharmacists to create continuity of care.

“With e-prescribing, physicians will know if the drug they are prescribing is covered, or if it is contraindicated, because they will be able to look it all up right away,” said Catherine Peper, vice president of health information technology, BCBSF, and chair, ePrescribe Florida. “For retail pharmacy it is very important, because when a patient comes to get her prescription, if anything went wrong during the prescribing process, such as the drug not being covered by her insurance, she'll be upset with the pharmacist.”

The e-prescription is also integrated into the retail pharmacy's workflow, making the patient information available to the pharmacists and throwing up red flags for drug interaction precautions.

“E-prescribing is a more efficient, safe and secure method of transmitting prescriptions to the pharmacy,” Brous said. “It gives you a prescription that is easy to read and understand.”

All Publix pharmacies are currently set up to receive electronic prescriptions, Brous said.

In addition, the health care community stands to see an improvement in patient safety. “An estimated 7,000 deaths a year are caused by preventable medication errors,” Peper said.

Acceptable generic drug alternatives will be available to prescribing doctors, saving patients money, she said. The number of callbacks from the pharmacy to the doctor's office should also significantly decrease, Peper said. “Right now, callbacks are in the neighborhood of happening 50% of the time.”

All of this can result in better patient health and lower insurance costs overall, she added.

About 20 different vendors that market the technological capabilities behind e-prescribing are members of the collaborative, Peper said. Working together is an advantage for them because, she said, “For electronic prescribing to work, it has to work across all the different organizations' systems.”

Publix is not going to promote one vendor's service over another, Brous said. “There are many different companies that offer e-prescribing software for physicians. We are not concerned about which system a prescriber chooses, as we receive prescriptions through a routing service that receives transactions from all of the various e-prescribing services.”