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University Hospitals and OnCallData Launch New Portal Combining State-of-the- Art Electronic Prescribing and Medication Reconciliation

CLEVELAND, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Adverse prescription-drug reactions cost the United States healthcare system $136 billion annually, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and put numerous patients at risk for debilitating long-term health effects or even death.

In a major step forward to prevent adverse drug reactions, University Hospitals (UH) in Cleveland has launched a state-of-the-art physicians' computer portal that combines electronic prescription writing with medication reconciliation.

Dr. Nathan Levitan, president of the UH Ireland Cancer Center who championed development of this portal, said, "Our new system is now an electronic 'single source of truth' list of medications and allergies for every patient."

"Patients who see more than one physician on an outpatient basis and also are taking several medications know that each physician has a slightly different understanding of what medications the patients are taking. In fact, each physician keeps a medication list in the patients' charts, and there's no way to achieve uniformity among them. Therefore, it is not surprising that patients often become confused about their medication regimens and complications occur as a result of medication interactions and allergic reactions."

In the UH Physician Portal, each patient's list of medications and notes of changes in medications resides in a highly secure portal, and every physician involved in the care of a particular patient works from an identical, centralized list of medications and allergies.

With this new system, if one physician makes a change in the medication regimen or list of allergies, every other physician involved in the care of this patient is made aware. If two medications on the list cannot be safely taken together, everyone is alerted. If a physician attempts to prescribe a drug to which the patient is allergic, the system "sounds an alarm."

The UH Physician Portal also provides up-to-the-minute prescribing information to physicians. It can provide educational and drug-reference materials pertaining to individual medications that are specifically designed for patients. And it prints out a take-home medication list for the patient that is written in clear and plain language. The UH Physician Portal also provides a convenient and easy method to import inpatient medications from the hospitals and prescribe medications upon discharge of the patient.

"No more confusion about brand name versus generic drug names," said Dr. Levitan, "and no more Latin abbreviations that patients do not understand."

In addition, medications are checked for payer formulary status with cost savings in mind. All of these features, as well as patient-eligibility checking, occur behind the scenes in seconds prior to electronic routing of the prescription, at the patient's direction, to one of more than 72,000 community or mail-order pharmacies in the United States. All of this is carried out in a fashion that is as secure as on-line banking, so that patients' confidentiality is protected.

Medicare recently announced that it would like all physicians in the outpatient setting to begin sending medication orders to pharmacies electronically instead of using hand-written paper prescriptions. The UH Physician Portal allows physicians to do this as well.

The UH portal program was piloted by UH Family Medicine physicians for more than a year, and is being rolled out through the entire UH system of 11 medical and health centers.

UH developed the program with InstantDx/OnCallData, a pioneer in e-prescribing which launched the first true two-way electronic connection to pharmacies. OnCallData, developed by InstantDx, is the TEPR-award-winning e-prescribing engine within the UH portal.

"The UH portal was built following years of collaborative work and testing with a remarkable group of physicians and healthcare leaders at UH," said Allan M. Weinstein, M.D., chairman and CEO of InstantDx/OnCallData, headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md.

"We are pleased that the UH portal, as an example of a regional health information network, will now provide the Cleveland community with the patient-safety benefits associated with coordinating medication reconciliation and electronic prescribing both in the hospital as well as in the outpatient setting."

The UH e-Prescription portal integrates with UH's inpatient and outpatient medical record system, SureScripts-RxHub, as well as with electronic systems at drugstores throughout Northeast Ohio and nationally. It has been approved by the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy.

The use of electronic prescriptions is expected to accelerate in coming years because of changes in the Medicare program beginning in January 2009. During the next five years, physicians who use e-prescribing for Medicare patients will receive bonuses of 2 percent in 2009 and 2010, 1 percent for the next two years and 0.5 percent in 2013. Physicians not using e-prescriptions for Medicare patients by 2012 could be penalized with a fee reduction of 1 percent in the first year, 1.5 percent in 2013 and 2 percent during subsequent years.

SOURCE University Hospitals
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