Iowa launches first statewide e-prescription network

Iowa is hoping to end some of the state’s most costly medical errors by asking doctors statewide to switch from paper prescriptions to electronic prescriptions. The new partnership between Iowa Health Systems and Allscripts, called ePrescribe Iowa, is a Web-based solution available to physicians throughout Iowa.

On Monday, Iowa launched the nation’s first statewide electronic prescription network with the help of e-prescription software provider Allscripts. The new partnership between Iowa Health Systems and Allscripts, called ePrescribe Iowa, is a Web-based solution available to physicians throughout Iowa.

“Writing prescriptions electronically is a key means of enhancing the quality and safety of patient care, and Iowa Health System is proud to offer the first program to provide this life-saving technology to every Iowa physician at no cost, along with the connectivity needed to make it work in the most remote rural facilities,” Bill Leaver, President and Chief Executive Officer of Iowa Health Systems said in a statement.

The initiative hopes to bridge the gap for those doctors and hospitals that have not made the transition to digital prescriptions. Less than three percent of all prescriptions written in Iowa during 2008 were produced using e-prescribing software, far below the national average of 25 percent. And 1.5 million Americans are injured each year from preventable medication errors, according to the Institute of Medicine. Officials said many of these could be prevented by the new system’s ability to check for patient allergies and harmful drug-to-drug interactions.

The e-prescription network will also connect with Iowa’s regional health information exchange, HealthNet connect. HealthNet connect is a fiber-optic network that stretches from Chicago to Denver and is helping to facilitate the implementation of electronic health records. ePrescribe Iowa, in conjunction with HealthNet will serve as a way for physicians to begin implementing EHRs, as mandated under the Recovery Act.

Mr. Leaver added that by adding ePrescribe Iowa to HealthNet connect, Iowa Health System’s efforts to connect urban and rural health care facilities and enable better care – the core mission of Iowa Health System will be accelerated.

Iowa Health Systems is a collection of health facilities, which operate in seven large Iowa communities, as well as Rock Island and Moline, Illinois. Iowa Health Systems also supports a system of rural hospitals in fourteen Iowa communities and partners with physicians and clinics in more than 80 communities in Iowa and western Illinois.

Allscripts chief executive, Glen Tullman said the partnership would create a model for the rest of the country to follow by helping physicians transition from paper-based care to EHRs while taking advantage of federal incentives for their adoption.

“We expect the combination of HealthNet connect, Allscripts, onsite training, and new Medicare incentives will eliminate the obstacles and provide an on-ramp to electronic healthcare highway and encourage Iowa physicians to embrace electronic prescriptions,” Mr. Tullman said. “This initiative has the potential to transform the entire state into one in which all prescriptions can be electronically transmitted to the pharmacy, delivering a simple yet comprehensive solution to a key public safety issue.”

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