HHS-supported e-Prescription pilot project to launch

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HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt this week announced the launch of a pilot project to test standards for e-prescribing at the third meeting of the American Health Information Community (AHIC). These standards have been developed as potential final standards as the basis for a system of electronic transmission of prescription information for the new Medicare Part D prescription drug program, according to a release.

"The new e-prescribing pilot project represents a major step forward in our work to develop and adopt standards for electronic medical and personal health records," said Leavitt. "This pilot will help to create a new age in efficiency and safety in America's medical care industry."

As part of the pilot, four teams will measure the impact of e-prescribing data transmission systems on patient safety and quality of care. Several systems for electronic data transmission standards will be tested to determine how effective prescriptions and prescription-related information can be transmitted between providers and pharmacies that are part of the Medicare program.

"With Medicare's new drug coverage program, we are providing help with drug costs as well as new support for a more effective electronic health care system," said Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator. "We expect that electronic prescribing will help improve quality, prevent medication errors, and reduce costs."

The pilot project will assess resulting changes in workflow in pharmacies and physician offices for effectiveness and cost control.

The project is being run jointly by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

A total of $6 million in competitive contracts have been awarded to four organizations leading a collective of companies and organizations towards developing the standards, they are:
  • RAND Corp., Santa Monica, Calif;
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Mass;
  • SureScripts, Alexandria, Va.; and
  • Achieve Healthcare Information Technology of Minnesota