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SureScripts, First Health ink pact, boosting doctors’ e-Rx data tools

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. SureScripts, the pharmacy-sanctioned provider of electronic prescribing linkup services between pharmacists and physicians, has signed a new operating agreement with a major pharmacy benefit manager that should forge closer ties between prescribing physicians and more than a dozen state Medicaid programs.

SureScripts signed the new service pact with First Health Services, a national Medicaid fee-for-service and managed health care company serving payers in 27 states and the District of Columbia. The deal could accelerate the rollout of e-prescribing because it will offer doctors in 13 states and D.C. electronic access to medication history and formulary and eligibility information on the Medicaid patients they serve.

In line with the pact, First Health has begun testing and certification of its Pharmaceutical Services point-of-sale system to share data with physicians over the Pharmacy Health Information Exchange, operated by SureScripts. Once complete, First Health will become a SureScripts Certified Solution Provider.

“This will enable state Medicaid programs using First Health Services’ point-of-sale processing system to offer physicians who are providing care to a Medicaid patient secure, electronic access to that patient’s medication history, as well as to formulary and eligibility information in real time, during an office visit,” noted the two companies in a joint statement.

First Health manages pharmaceutical services for Medicaid programs in Alaska, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C. In 2008 the company will also begin to support the Pharmaceutical Services for the Florida Medicaid program.

“The collaboration with SureScripts provides secured access to real-time critical patient information for program recipients that is needed to enhance fiscal controls, reduce fraud and abuse, and promote quality care,” said Peter Quinn, chief operating officer for First Health.

According to First Health, putting information about a patient’s drug coverage at a prescribing physician’s fingertips eliminates many of the questions that often require pharmacists and PBMs to make multiple phone calls to a physician’s office every day.

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