tDETROIT — Six years ago, before smartphones were a veritable cornerstone of daily life, a few hundred physicians in Southeast Michigan joined an initiative to begin using similar handheld devices in an effort to more safely and efficiently prescribe medications for their patients.
tToday, the Steering Committee of the Southeast Michigan ePrescribing Initiative (SEMI) reports that more than 7,500 physicians in the area are actively prescribing in the program – a 33 percent increase from a year ago – and have submitted more than 40 million electronic prescriptions since the program began in 2005. Due to this success, SEMI will continue supporting physicians in the practice of ePrescribing for a seventh consecutive year to ensure optimal use of ePrescribing and to maximize the quality and safety benefits as well as the cost savings they provide.
t"In 2005, this diverse group of stakeholders came together for the common goal of improving the safety and efficiency of prescribing for physicians and patients. We created SEMI to help advance the implementation of clinical technology in the physician office setting starting with ePrescribing, and each year, we are encouraged and excited to see that the program is making a profound and positive impact on our health care system," said Marsha Manning, Manager, Health Care Plans, General Motors. "While we are making great strides, we still have more work to do to insure that ePrescribing is optimized. We look forward to harnessing the momentum we have with SEMI to achieve this important goal."
tSEMI was launched in 2005 to promote ePrescribing among physicians in Southeast Michigan. The coalition includes: General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Group LLC, the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Health Alliance Plan, Henry Ford Medical Group, Medco Health Solutions, Inc., CVS Caremark Corporation and Catalyst Rx.
tSEMI provides doctors with training and a support system to help integrate ePrescribing into their practice – two obstacles routinely cited by doctors who choose paper prescriptions over electronic prescriptions.
t"SEMI's growth and success over the past six years is a testament to the design of the program, which balances support and training with a physician's own investment in the technology. This formula is working, and is a win for patients, physicians and payors," said John Driscoll, President, New Markets at Medco and Co-Chair of the Board of Directors at SureScripts. "With the requirements and incentives to use electronic prescribing in the Medicare Part D legislation and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, doctors need programs like SEMI more than ever to help them make ePrescribing the standard of care."
tSince July 2011 electronic prescription volume among physicians in SEMI routinely surpasses 1 million each month. An analysis conducted in December 2011 on a sample of 23 million prescriptions written by SEMI physicians since the program began also found:
tA severe or moderate drug-to-drug alert was sent to physicians for more than 6.2 million prescriptions, resulting in 1.8 million (or 28 percent) of those prescriptions being changed or canceled by the prescribing doctor;
tPhysicians received nearly 923,000 medication allergy alerts, resulting in more than 250,000 (or 27 percent) of those prescriptions being changed or canceled by the prescribing doctor;
t8.2 million lists of dispensed prescription histories were downloaded by physicians; and
tWhen a formulary alert was presented, physicians changed the prescription to comply with formulary requirements 28 percent of the time.
t"My colleague and I use ePrescribing for nearly all of the medications we prescribe for our patients, and it has significantly reduced the time we spend writing prescriptions. We spend less time on phone calls related to the medications we prescribe, and it has made it easier for our office staff to manage refills for our patients," said Dr. Kevin Frankel, a family practitioner in Oakland Southfield Physicians, PC, and SEMI participant. "This technology also helps us better understand what our patients are taking, and if they are using their medications properly and as often as they should, which leads to better care and fewer errors –both of which are valuable features for our busy practice."