Nevada doctors get free prescription software

A medical society, insurer and technology company have teamed up for the effort.

By Tyler Chin — Posted Nov. 14, 2005

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Sierra Health Services Inc., Clark County Medical Society and Allscripts LLC in October joined forces to offer electronic prescribing software free to all 5,000 physicians in Nevada.

Under the initiative, Clark County Medical Society members can receive a 10-year software license as well as two years of maintenance at no cost.

Other physicians in Nevada can receive the software for free but must pay a monthly maintenance fee of approximately $20, said Peter O'Neill, a spokesman for Sierra Health, which operates a large insurance company and group practice in the state.

However, any doctor who signs up to get the e-prescribing software from Allscripts must pay for hardware and Internet access, O'Neill said.

Clark County Medical Society, which covers the Las Vegas area, is participating in the initiative because "it's a win-win situation" for everyone involved, said Ron Kline, MD, the medical society's president.

That's particularly true for members of the medical society who will have the opportunity to get technology for free for two years because Sierra Health is picking up the entire tab for the software licensing fee and sharing the cost of the monthly maintenance fee with Allscripts, he said.

"There's no downside for [physicians] doing it because it's free [for two years]," said Dr. Kline, a pediatric hematologist oncologist who plans to take advantage of the offer. "It's the direction that all of medicine is moving to in terms of electronic medical records and, hopefully, it will make my life easier and more efficient. Obviously if it doesn't, then I won't use it. But my expectation is that it will."

Allscripts also stands to benefit by gaining access to a potentially large base of installed users, Dr. Kline said.

Sierra Health, Las Vegas, decided to spend $750,000 to license Web-based e-prescribing software from Chicago-based Allscripts for 10 years because it has already seen benefits the technology can deliver in terms of improved patient safety and lower health care costs, O'Neill said.

For example, Sierra Health eliminated calls from pharmacists and medication errors related to handwritten prescriptions since it mandated that its physicians use the technology two years ago, O'Neill said. Its health plan also saw generic prescription use rise from 53% to 65%, resulting in savings to both the health plan and many of its 580,000 members, he added.

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