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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Announces One Millionth E- Prescription in Illinois

Over 143,000 drug/allergy errors flagged; 27% of scripts changed, cancelled

CHICAGO, Aug. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) announced today that physicians and health care providers in the Illinois E-Prescribing Collaborative reached a major milestone in their e-prescribing efforts - the one millionth "e-prescription" was transmitted electronically last month.

"E-prescribing enhances patient care and prevents errors," says Scott Sarran, M.D., BCBSIL's chief medical officer. "E-prescribing reduces the potential for drug interactions, which can be extremely harmful, and even fatal in some cases, and it can eliminate the potential for errors that can occur if pharmacists can't read hand-written prescriptions."

E-prescribing's benefits

Once they determine which medication is most appropriate for the patients, physicians use automated data entry systems, such as desktop computers, handheld devices or personal computer tablets, to submit prescriptions electronically to patients' pharmacies of choice. E-prescribing gives physicians real-time access to important safety and prescription coverage information, which can inform their prescribing decisions. The technology has been widely recognized for its ability to improve patient safety, increase practice efficiency and reduce costs.

Sarran says that since BCBSIL launched the e-prescribing program in April 2007, more than 119,000 possible drug interactions have been flagged. As a result, nearly 20 percent of prescriptions were changed or cancelled.

Based on national trends, more than 670,000 prescriptions will be changed and cancelled in 2009, due to drug interaction warnings, and more than 53,600 prescriptions will be changed or cancelled due to drug allergy warnings.

The Institute of Medicine reports that more than 1.5 million Americans are injured every year by medication errors and recommends that all prescriptions be written and received electronically by the year 2010.

E-prescribing takes off

Surescripts, a St. Paul, Minn.-based national electronic prescribing network, says e-prescribing accounts for about 4.5 percent of all prescribing in the U.S. However, since 2007, e-prescribing has more than doubled to 68 million in 2008 from 29 million in 2007.

Sarran says BCBSIL providers using the technology have increased. He has seen growth in the number of scripts routed electronically. According to the 2008 Electronic Prescribing Progress Report, Illinois ranked 21st in the nation for total number of prescriptions routed electronically. In 2007, the state ranked 28th and was 27th in 2006.

Illinois had 3.79 percent of total prescriptions written via e-prescribing as of December 31, 2008. There were 1.9 million new prescriptions written in 2008 and more than 2.5 million routed electronically; that's a growth of 240 percent over scripts filed in 2007. Of the total scripts written, over one million were written by providers in the Illinois E-Prescribing Collaborative - insurers, technology vendors, pharmacies, employer groups, physicians and other organizations involved in the prescription process.

Illinois has been making great strides, said Sarran, and was recently recognized as one of the five most improved states by Surescripts, the electronic prescribing network. Surescripts credits six organizations in Illinois as key contributors in driving the success of e-prescribing in Illinois:

1. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Chicago

2. Illinois eRx Collaborative

3. Northshore University Healthsystem, Evanston

4. OSF Healthcare System (Third Order of St. Francis), Peoria

5. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

6. United Healthcare, Chicago

These groups were recognized in Washington, D.C., as part of the Fourth Annual Safe-Rx Awards by Surescripts in June.

The state progress report ranks Illinois 25th for the number of physicians who e-prescribe, with 2,354 physicians currently part of the initiative. While that's 11 percent of doctors in the state, it's a growth of 146 percent over the 2007 program, which had only 4 1/2 percent physician participation.

Eighty-two percent of the pharmacies in Illinois are part of the program, with 1,810 locations capable of receiving routed scripts, which is a 9 percent increase from the previous year. Illinois ranked 16th in the state ranking of community pharmacies activated for e-prescribing.

It Takes An e-Collaborative

Participation by payers and other stakeholders is key, says Sarran, and that's why BCBSIL formed the Illinois e-Prescribing Collaborative in February, 2007. At that time, BCBSIL provided grants to 500 physician offices to help them get started doing e-prescribing.

(1) SureScripts Safe RX Program. 2008 Illinois ranking:

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois

With approximately 7 million members, BCBSIL ( is the largest health insurance company in Illinois. Started in 1936, BCBSIL is committed to promoting the health and wellness of its members and its communities through accessible, cost-effective, quality health care. BCBSIL is a division of Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), a Mutual Legal Reserve Company. HCSC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
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