News | October 28, 2007

Southeastern Michigan ePrescribing Initiative Reports Substantial Reduction in Medication Errors

October 29, 2007 - ePrescribing significantly reduces medication errors, according to data released today from the Southeast Michigan ePrescribing Initiative (SEMI), a broad coalition involving General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Chrysler LLC, the United Auto Workers (UAW), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Health Alliance Plan, Henry Ford Medical Group, Medco Health Solutions, Inc. and CVS Caremark Corp.

The analysis is the first to look at the overall results of the SEMI program that has generated nearly 6.2 million prescriptions using ePrescribing technology since its launch in February 2005. Today there are nearly 2,500 physician participants writing more than 282,000 ePrescriptions each month. The findings show that ePrescribing substantially improved patient safety by alerting physicians of risks related to drug interactions and other potential medication problems and resulted in a significant number of prescription changes that prevented possible adverse events.

Based on the program’s success thus far, the SEMI coalition partners will extend the ePrescribing initiative into 2008, continuing to enroll physicians through March. Since the program's inception, the SEMI coalition partners have invested more than $1 million, with over $500,000 directly going to participating physicians and groups to help fund their related technology investments.

“The SEMI program results provide important proof that ePrescribing is a critical tool for physicians in improving patient safety,” said Marsha Manning, GM’s manager of Southeast Michigan Community Health Care Initiatives. “The benefits of ePrescribing are overwhelming in terms of reducing medication errors, lowering prescription drug costs for patients and plans, and decreasing physician practices’ administrative costs. We hope that the physician experience with SEMI will convince many more Southeast Michigan doctors to enroll in the program in the coming months.”
The SEMI results show that among a sample of 3.3 million ePrescriptions reviewed for the analysis:
- A severe or moderate drug-to-drug alert was sent to physicians for more than 1 million prescriptions (33 percent), resulting in nearly 423,000 (41 percent) of those prescriptions being changed or canceled by the prescribing doctor.
- More than 100,000 medication allergy alerts were presented, of which more than 41,000 (41 percent) were acted upon.
- Nearly 56,000 lists of dispensed prescription histories were downloaded by physicians.
- When a formulary alert was presented, 39 percent of the time the physician changed the prescription to comply with formulary requirements.

“ePrescribing has improved my practice,” said Michael J. Williams, M.D., a physician with Lifetime Medical Associates who is enrolled in the SEMI program. “Not only was it easy to implement and use, it helps me provide better, more efficient care for my patients. With ePrescribing, I make prescribing decisions based on drug-to-drug interactions, allergies and coverage rules, in addition to my patients' clinical needs.”

The Institute of Medicine’s report in July 2006 reported that 1.5 million people are harmed annually from medication errors. The benefits of ePrescribing technology include reducing potentially harmful drug interactions by alerting physicians of possible risks, eliminating illegible physician hand-written prescriptions that can lead to medication dispensing errors, and eliminating patient wait time at the pharmacy by furnishing physicians with benefit plan details at the point of prescribing so that changes won't be needed when the prescription is being filled.

Launched in February 2005, The Southeast Michigan ePrescribing Initiative is one of the largest, employer-driven ePrescribing initiatives to encourage the adoption and use of ePrescribing, and validate the impact of ePrescribing technology on improving patient safety and reducing prescription drug costs.

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