PHARMACY

‘Cost-effective, quality care’ are just some of the results to be seen with Medco, Medical Mutual of Ohio partnership

BY Jim Frederick

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Efforts by retail pharmacies and pharmacy groups to spur the adoption of electronic-prescribing technology among the nation’s technology-averse physicians are nothing new. Nor are collaborative campaigns that enlist pharmacies and technology vendors. But a joint campaign to speed e-prescribing by a pharmacy benefits manager and a health insurer? That’s a far less frequent occurrence. And it speaks volumes about the self-evident value that paperless prescribing in particular — and electronic patient record-keeping in general — will bring to America’s disconnected, dysfunctional healthcare system.

(THE NEWS: Medco teams up with Ohio insurer to speed conversion to e-prescribing. For the full story, click here)

The push to encourage e-prescribing among Ohio’s prescribing physicians makes smart business sense. And the people who run PBM giant Medco Health Solutions and the insurance firm involved in the partnership, Medical Mutual of Ohio, are astute enough to see the benefits that will rapidly accrue to both their companies with the nationwide adoption of e-prescribing and health information technology.

For one thing, said Robert Rzewnicki, Medical Mutual’s chief medical officer, e-prescribing fosters “payer-physician collaboration” and “leads to cost-effective, quality care.” It’s also “a proven way of enhancing patient safety while reducing the administrative cost and lightening the workload in physician’s offices,” he said.

It’s long been noted that paperless prescribing — along with the electronic communication and storage of prescriptions and other patient data, including medical histories, allergic-reaction profiles and lab results by all the health providers and stakeholders involved in a patient’s therapy and wellness — knocks down the silos that still dominate too much of the healthcare network and prevent a more cost-effective, integrated approach to successful outcomes. Medco and Medical Mutual noted in a joint statement, “At least 1.5 million preventable adverse drug events occur each year in the United States, according to a 2006 report by the Institute of Medicine.” And e-prescribing, they added, “can reduce that number by putting critical clinical information at the fingertips of physicians where it can do the most good— at the point of care.”

That leads to real cost savings for insurers picking up the tab for adverse drug events and other clinical misadventures. And providing formulary information to doctors as they write a prescription electronically, Medco points out, also can curb costs for patients, health plan payers and PBMs by “increasing the use of generics and preferred drugs.”

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Independence Blue Cross challenges business leaders to ‘Step Out’ and fight diabetes

BY Allison Cerra

PHILADELPHIA Independence Blue Cross is continuing its role as a presenting sponsor of Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes for the third consecutive year.

At a corporate kickoff breakfast held Wednesday, hosted with the American Diabetes Association, IBC president and CEO Joseph Frick — this year’s walk chair — urged business leaders to get involved in fundraising efforts for the upcoming annual walk on Oct. 2.

“At IBC, we’re committed to helping our members with diabetes live healthier lives and preventing the onset of this devastating disease among those who are at risk,” said Frick. “This is one of the many reasons we continue to make meaningful investments in prevention, wellness and health management programs for diabetes and other chronic conditions. Participating in Step Out is a great way to remind each other that our health should be a top priority. Equally important is our partnership with organizations like the ADA that are focused on diabetes prevention through education programs that reach our members and the community and help them understand the devastating effects of diabetes.”

Last year while Step Out walks took place in 166 other cities across the country, the Philadelphia walk broke national records as the largest in participation and fundraising. More than 3,500 people were in attendance and with the help of IBC and a number of local corporate and family-and-friend teams the ADA was able to raise more than $550,000.

“IBC’s presenting sponsorship of Step Out continues to demonstrate their care and concern for those in our community  who suffer from diabetes and other chronic diseases,” said Russell Moore, ADA executive director of the southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey region. “Together we hope to communicate the importance of events like Step Out that bring people together in support of a good cause. Every year, each walker and every dollar raised brings us one step closer to a cure.”

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Bill for fast response to drug abuse advances in Senate with NACDS nod

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. A move by the Senate to root out early-stage drug abuse in the communities where it first takes hold gained a strong endorsement Thursday from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson sent a letter Thursday to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, voicing the group’s support for legislation that would help stop drug abuse problems in the communities where they begin, before those problems move beyond the local level and impact a wider region. The new bill, which has bipartisan backing, targets abuse of both prescription and non-prescription medications and methamphetamine, among others.

“This bipartisan bill…builds upon the highly successful Drug Free Communities program by providing critical funding to local communities to more effectively deal with emerging drug trends and local drug crises,” wrote Anderson. “On behalf of our members, and the communities and families they serve, we are pleased to endorse your bill.”

Leahy and Grassley, who also serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the bill as S. 3031, or the Drug Free Communities Enhancement Act of 2010. The legislation would authorize the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy to fund community efforts that address emerging local drug issues or local drug crises.

Behind the proposal, according to language inserted in S. 3031, is “historical evidence showing that emerging local drug issues and crises can be stopped or mitigated before they spread to other areas, if they are identified quickly and addressed in a comprehensive multi-sector manner.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the legislation on April 15, clearing its way for placement on the Senate legislative calendar. To reach President Obama’s desk for almost certain enactment, the bill would need to be passed in identical form by the Senate and House of Representatives.

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