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Surescripts, Epic partner on electronic health records

BY Alaric DeArment

ARLINGTON, Va. — Electronic prescribing network Surescripts will connect its system to the interoperability platform of a company that provides electronic health records, under a partnership announced Thursday.

Surescripts announced that it would work with Epic to integrate its Clinical Interoperability Network with Epic’s Care Everywhere platform, allowing providers who use Epic’s EHR to securely exchange clinical information with peers between practices and across health systems, including referrals, discharge summaries and lab results. Clinical interoperability is a healthcare provider’s ability to share a patient’s health information electronically and, according to experts, is a critical step in accelerating the digital transformation of the country’s healthcare system, according to Surescripts, which said that medical information for 150 million patients would be stored in an Epic digital record by next year.

"Surescripts continues to be committed to enhancing our network, expanding our capabilities and enabling the flow of new types of health information to advance connectivity and enable diverse parties to work together," Surescripts president and CEO Harry Totonis said. "With our Clinical Interoperability Network, we will enable broader health information sharing between thousands more care providers nationwide. Our goal is to connect the entire U.S. healthcare system to support improvements in care, safety, cost and health outcomes."

According to a Surescripts survey of 400 physicians, 55% of respondents said important patient information always or frequently arrived after the patient visit, a statistic the company said wasn’t surprising because 91% of doctors still use fax machines to share information with other doctors, while 57% use telephones and 53% use electronic health records or the U.S. Postal Service.


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Kalorama reports several new OTC categories under consideration by FDA

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Kalorama Information on Thursday reported that a number of Rx-to-OTC switch applications currently are under review by the Food and Drug Administration across several new-to-self-care categories, including overactive bladder, bacterial infections, cholesterol and high blood pressure.

“We are beginning to see the early preparations for a boost to the OTC market with revived FDA attention to Rx-to-OTC switches,” stated Melissa Elder, analyst for Kalorama Information. “Keep an eye on companies like Merck — known for attempting to provide first-in-category switches.”

Kalorama Information estimates the market for such OTC approaches to be $78 billion in 2011. "Growth has been sluggish in the past few years, but consumer demand and favorable regulation will drive growth in the market as controlling healthcare costs has become a primary concern in recent years," the firm stated.

Earlier this week, DSN reported that the FDA’s advisory committee will be meeting to determine whether the overactive bladder medication Oxytrol is appropriate as a nonprescription therapy. For that story, click here

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Safeway outlines three future growth platforms: Wellness, loyalty and fuel

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Safeway will package $150 million in real healthcare savings into an overall wellness strategy to be implemented over the course of 2013, the grocer’s chairman and CEO Steve Burd told analysts Thursday morning at the Goldman Sachs 19th Annual Global Retailing Conference. 

Those $150 million in healthcare savings was realized by Safeway over the course or the past seven years. "We’ve contained our healthcare costs across an organization of 175,000 people. We have a lower healthcare cost in this company today than we did in 2005," Burd said. "[In] 2005, we spent about $1 billion; last year we spent about $850 million in healthcare. So we have [come up with] a way of ‘productizing’ the things that we’ve learned and providing products and services to our consumers."

Safeway’s wellness play has been in development for more than two years now, Burd said. "We are working with a partner who has innovative technology, so it’s not just us," he said. Safeway will pilot its wellness platform in one market in the fourth quarter and expects full rollout by the end of 2013. "When completed, the initiative is expected to deliver not only some strong IDs, but also a good margin and good income. And it should attract more people to our stores."

Safeway’s wellness strategy was one leg of three core sales-driving pillars outlined by Burd, the other two being Safeway’s Just for U loyalty program and its fuel loyalty program. 

Just for U is a digital marketing platform that delivers personalized offerings to the 4.1 million shoppers who have registered for the platform, or presently, 23% of Safeway’s regular shoppers. "We have the best repurchase rate of any program in the retail business," Burd said, "because it’s very targeted to the shopper’s history." The program has expanded nationwide in the past few months, and Just for U shoppers are already accounting for 36% of Safeway sales. "We believe by the end of this year, 45% of our sales will be represented by registered Just for U applicants," Burd said.

Of the 4.1 million Just for U registrants, some 1.4 million are not active users, representing a "huge opportunity" for Safeway to connect with those shoppers and pull them into their stores, Burd said.  

Safeway also has the potential to double its Just for U registrants today, Burd said, limited only by the penetration of smartphones and tablets into households. "In five years, that number will approach 90-plus percent. So in divisions where we’ve been able to launch the mobile application simultaneously with Just for U, about 31% of our Just for U registrants use the mobile application."

The third pillar, fuel loyalty, is delivering significantly higher identical sales, Burd said. Of the 343 fuel stations that Safeway operates in the U.S. market, comparable sales are higher by some 3.4% compared to stores without fuel. Couple Safeway’s fuel loyalty platform with its Just for U initiative, and you have the capability to personalize fuel savings to the shopper, Burd said. "If the standard offer is 10 cents per gallon reduction in price for every $100 accumulative spend, I can make that for individual shoppers anything I want for any time horizon I want, and I only do it where I get an incremental lift in sales," he said. 

Safeway is extending its fuel program in the fourth quarter with other gas companies so that consumers shopping a Safeway without a fuel station can still be incented by the program. "We recently finalized an agreement with a large branded partner, and we’re in advanced discussions with a second partner," Burd said. "Agreements with these two partners will take our fuel rewards coverage program [from] about 23% of stores in the U.S. to about 93%." That fuel station network will grow from 343 to more than 2,200, Burd added. 


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kpereau says:
Sep-10-2012 01:03 pm

Great vision, especially on wellness. I could see Safeway partnering with channel partners who could help them scale with corporate customers. Their combined corporate - retail reach would be staggering.

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