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Challenges, Opportunities Await Providers Investing in New Technology

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 7, 2008 - The eHealth Initiative (eHI), in collaboration with the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the Medical Group Management Association, and The Center for Improving Medication Management (The Center), issued the first comprehensive, multi-stakeholder-informed "how-to" guide to help clinicians make informed decisions about how and when to transition from paper to electronic prescribing systems. A Clinician's Guide to Electronic Prescribing was released at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) National e-Prescribing Conference in Boston today and follows the agency's decision earlier this year to offer financial incentives--beginning in 2009--to providers who adopt e-prescribing.

"We know e-prescribing is an efficient way to improve health care delivery, decrease medication errors, and prevent potentially dangerous drug interactions," said eHI Chief Executive Officer Janet Marchibroda. "However, the transition from a paper to electronic system is quite challenging. This guide is meant to remove some of the mystery around e-prescribing and help physicians begin to realize some of the many benefits e-prescribing can bring to their patients and their practices."

Developed with the strategic guidance of a multi-stakeholder Steering Group comprised of clinicians, consumers, employers, health plans, and pharmacies, and in partnership with four major medical associations, the guide is designed to meet the needs of two target audiences: The first section of the guide targets office-based clinicians who are new to the concept of e-prescribing, and who seek a basic understanding of what e-prescribing is, how it works, what its benefits and challenges are, and the current environment impacting its widespread adoption. The second section of the guide targets office-based clinicians who are ready to
move forward and bring e-prescribing into their practices. It presents fundamental questions and steps to follow in planning for, selecting and implementing an e-prescribing system. The guide also provides a list of key references and resources readers may consult to help make the transition to e-prescribing as smooth as possible.

"E-prescribing holds great promise for improvements in patient safety and advances in care coordination, and the AMA is committed to helping physicians adopt this technology," said American Medical Association Board Member, Steven J. Stack, M.D. "This guide is an important resource for physicians and can aid in the adoption and implementation of e-prescribing."

"With all the momentum toward e-prescribing and its accelerated growth, it is important to assist physicians and other prescribers to ensure that e-prescribing is implemented well in order for the full range of benefits can be achieved," said Steven E. Waldren, MD, MS, Director, Center for Health-IT at the American Academy of Family Physicians and The Center for Improving Medication Management Board member. "This Guide provides substantial detail not only on how to get started but what challenges to expect and how to overcome them."

In June, eHI and The Center for Improving Medication Management released a report detailing the latest figures on e-prescribing, including the progress made, the obstacles that remain, and recommendations for how different stakeholders in the system can support the migration from paper-based prescriptions to an electronic system. Among the findings from the report were the following:

More than 35 million prescription transactions were sent electronically in 2007, a 170 percent increase over the previous year.

At the end of 2007, at least 35,000 prescribers were actively e-prescribing. Estimates indicate there will be at least 85,000 active users of e-prescribing by the end of 2008.

While e-prescribing is growing rapidly, the adoption level at the end of 2007 represents only about six percent of physicians.

Only two percent of eligible prescriptions were transmitted electronically in 2007.
The biggest challenges to widespread adoption of e-prescribing by providers are financial burdens, workflow changes, continued needs for improved connectivity and technology, and the need for reconciled medication histories.

Accompanying the June report were corresponding guides that offer practical information for health care payers to support effective adoption, and for consumers to better understand e-prescribing's benefits and use.

The full prescriber guide and the earlier e-prescribing reports are available at

About eHealth Initiative and its Foundation
The eHealth Initiative and its Foundation are independent, non-profit affiliated organizations whose missions are to drive improvements in the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare through information and information technology. eHI engages multiple stakeholders, including clinicians, consumers, employers, health plans, health IT suppliers, hospitals and other providers, laboratories, pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacies, and state and local leaders to reach agreement on and drive the adoption of common principles, policies and best practices for improving health and health care through information technology. For more information, visit

About The Center for Improving Medication Management
The Center for Improving Medication Management serves as an industry resource by gathering and disseminating best and worst practices related to technology deployment for electronic medication management and for leveraging that technology and connectivity to test innovative approaches to improve patient adherence with prescribed medications. The Center was founded by the American Academy of Family Physicians, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Humana Inc., Intel Corporation, the Medical Group Management Association, and Surescripts-RxHub. For more information, visit

About American Medical Association
The American Medical Association (AMA) helps doctors help patients by uniting physicians nationwide to work on the most important professional, public health and advocacy issues in medicine. Working together, the AMA's quarter of a million physician and medical student members are playing an active role in shaping the future of medicine. For more information, visit

About the American Academy of Family Physicians
Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents more than 93,000 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.
Nearly one in four of all office visits are made to family physicians. That is 215 million office visits each year - nearly 48 million more than the next medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide the majority of care for America's underserved and rural populations.
In the increasingly fragmented world of health care where many medical specialties limit their practice to a particular organ, disease, age or sex, family physicians are dedicated to treating the whole person across the full spectrum of ages. Family medicine's cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care. To learn more about the AAFP and about the specialty of family medicine, please visit

About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians (ACP) is a national organization of internists - physicians who specialize in the prevention, detection and treatment of illnesses in adults. ACP is the largest medical-specialty organization and second-largest physician group in the United States. Its membership of 126,000 includes internists, internal medicine subspecialists, and medical students, residents, and fellows. ACP's mission is to enhance the quality and effectiveness of health care by fostering excellence and professionalism in the practice of medicine. For more information, visit

About the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)
The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) is the nation's principal voice for the medical group practice profession, with 21,500 members who lead and manage more than 13,500 organizations in which almost 270,000 practice. MGMA's mission is to continually improve the performance of medical group practice professionals and the organizations they represent. For more information, visit

Priscilla Ring Vanderveer

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