Hutchinson to depart SureScripts; Ratliff will take acting CEO post

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Electronic prescribing pioneer SureScripts today announced that president and chief executive officer Kevin Hutchinson would leave the company at the end of January 2008.

SureScripts’ chief operating officer, Rick Ratliff, will serve as acting chief executive officer.

Hutchinson joined SureScripts in August 2002, where he has led the effort to build a neutral nationwide network for e-prescribing and electronic transmission of patient health data. Under his watch, the Pharmacy Health Information Exchange has gone from concept to launch to its current position as the most successful and widespread network for electronic prescribing and pharmacy integration.

Hutchinson will leave the pharmacy-sanctioned e-prescribing platform provider at a propitious time. In 2007, more than 35,000 prescribers electronically connected to more than 40,000 community pharmacies and generated more than 35 million electronic prescription transactions. In 2008, SureScripts predicts that e-prescription transaction volume will nearly triple.

“I am leaving on the heels of a breakthrough year for e-prescribing, and while the wind is clearly at our backs, there remains much work to be done,” said Hutchinson. “E-prescribing must remain a national priority, and I am looking forward to an opportunity to continue to impact change in healthcare through the use of information technology.”

As more and more doctors become convinced that the benefits of e-prescribing and electronic patient records outweigh the costs of conversion, conditions appear to be ripening for a massive, nationwide transition away from paper prescribing and into a new era of electronic storage and transmission of patient records. Hutchinson, as much as anyone, has championed that conversion.

“Kevin sees e-prescribing as hitting or about to hit its tipping point, so he feels now is a good opportunity to look for another chance to build,” SureScripts spokesman Rob Cronin told Drug Store News today.

Among the industry leaders who praised Hutchinson for his leadership are CVS Caremark chairman and chief executive Tom Ryan. “At the beginning, middle and end of each day, it’s all about the patient,” Ryan said. “Kevin and the SureScripts team have played a pivotal role in … pharmacy’s efforts to electronically link and bring together physicians, payers and pharmacists to better serve patients with safer and more cost efficient care.”

Added Bruce Roberts, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the National Community Pharmacists Association and co-chairman of SureScripts, “Electronic prescribing would not be where it is today without Kevin’s leadership over the past five-plus years.”

Hutchinson, for his part, said SureScripts was in good hands with his interim successor, Ratliff. “Rick has co-led this effort with me from the beginning and leads a strong management team that stands ready to guide SureScripts through its continued growth,” he said.

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