New Hampshire Blues offers e-prescribing software

Anthem, the state's largest insurer, is providing the free services to enable physicians to send prescriptions electronically.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted Oct. 22, 2007

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Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in New Hampshire says it will provide free e-prescribing software and a free handheld device to each physician in the state.

The move is expected to boost progress toward New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch's goal of launching a statewide electronic prescribing program by next year. New Hampshire was already halfway toward its goal when Gov. Lynch's plan was first announced, with 50% of the state's physicians then having e-prescribing capabilities. According to Palmer Jones, executive vice president of the New Hampshire Medical Society, this is because 75% of the state's physicians are hospital-employed.

But almost immediately after the governor announced his plan last year, the medical society believed the only way to make it happen was if the state's health plans took an active role, Jones said.

"Studies have found that payers accrue the most benefit of e-prescribing, and their support will be critical for its success. In that regard [funding from payers is] a good thing," said Anthony Schueth, who is managing partner at Point-of-Care Partners, a health care consulting group based in Coral Springs, Fla.

Charles Kennedy, MD, vice president of health information technology for Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc., Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in New Hampshire's parent company, said because of WellPoint's size, it was able to negotiate deals that physicians or hospitals wouldn't have been able to reach on their own.

For example, the insurer contracted with Allscripts, the e-prescribing software developer, and is subsidizing a program to offer the software for free. The insurer was also able to extend its corporate discount with Sprint to offer discounted rates for wireless service and free handheld cell phones with PDAs for those physicians willing to sign a two-year contract. Dr. Kennedy said several states have asked for similar help since the New Hampshire plan was first announced.

Physicians must have a contract with Anthem to take advantage of the program. But this won't be an issue in New Hampshire, said Elizabeth Malko, MD, medical director of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in New Hampshire, because nearly all of the state's physicians are contracted with Anthem.

Dr. Malko says it's not the company's intention to get the software in doctors' hands and simply hope they use it.

The company is holding seminars across the state to train physicians on how to use the software and answer concerns they may have.

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