ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Four large supermarket companies with a total of more than 2,200 pharmacies recently signed up for a system that will allow them to receive electronic prescriptions from physicians.
Hannaford Bros., Scarborough, Maine; Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif.; A&P, Montvale, N.J.; and Ahold USA Chantilly, Va., reached an agreement with SureScript Systems here, an e-prescribing venture founded by the National Community Pharmacists Association and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, both also located here. The company works with health care technology vendors to provide pharmacies with a gateway for e-prescribing connectivity without forcing retailers to change their current pharmacy systems software, said Kevin Hutchinson, chief executive officer, SureScripts.
These agreements are among the first in the grocery industry. Albertsons, Boise, Idaho, signed up with SureScripts in October, as previously reported by SN.
Retailers praised how the e-prescribing venture will reduce prescribing errors because of illegible handwriting, while improving pharmacy efficiency.
"Ahold USA looks forward to working with SureScripts to develop electronic prescribing systems in our supermarket pharmacies," said John Fegan, vice president of pharmacy for Ahold USA, which includes 755 pharmacies under banners such as Giant Food, Landover, Md.; Stop & Shop, Quincy, Mass.; Tops Friendly Markets, Williamsville, N.Y.; and Giant Food of Carlisle, Pa.
"The diversity of our supermarkets, in both location and function, makes a universal electronic prescribing solution like SureScripts an ideal fit for our pharmacies and customers," he added in a written statement.
"The improved safety and convenience offered through Surescripts' electronic prescribing solution enables us to enhance the quality of service to our customers," agreed Rich Cancilla, vice president of pharmacy, Safeway, in a prepared statement. Safeway operates 1,108 U.S. supermarket pharmacies under the Safeway, Vons, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Dominick's, Genuardi's and Carrs names.
This expansion of commitment from the industry cements the support of "SureScripts' engine to drive e-prescribing," Hutchinson told SN. "If we're going to be successful [at moving e-prescribing forward], we need the support of the entire retail pharmacy market." Other retailers that previously committed to the development and implementation of SureScripts' e-prescribing solutions include major drug chains like Walgreens, Deerfield, Ill.; Rite Aid, Camp Hill, Pa.; Duane Reade, New York; and CVS, Woonsocket, R.I. Hutchinson said the new venture in these four supermarket companies will "go live" early next year, testing connectivity in a select number of stores before moving toward a more aggressive rollout in late March or early April, he said. However, he noted that these agreements are not trial periods, but long-term decisions made at the supermarkets' corporate level.
"Doctors and pharmacists are used to communicating by faxes, voice mail and phone calls, and they are looking for a better way to improve the process," said Hutchinson.