Monday, September 17, 2007

Mississippi Medicaid Program Considers Expanding E-Prescribing Program

An electronic prescribing program shown to save the State of Mississippi some $1.2 million per month in medication costs could be expanded, according to several news sources. The Mississippi Division of Medicaid is discussing expanding its successful e-prescribing program by equipping 225 doctors with handheld e-prescribing devices.

E-prescribing refers to an electronic prescription order/fulfillment route that directly connects physician workstations with mail order or retail pharmacies. Many electronic medical records (EMR) systems include an e-prescribe function, and some companies sell programs independent of an EMR.

Physicians can use the Informed Decisions devices to access patients' medication histories, avoid dangerous drug interactions and see if patients are filling and refilling their prescriptions. Doctors who use the devices write fewer prescriptions on average, and those prescriptions are likely to cost the state less, state officials say.

The state pays $35,000 per month for the program but is saving nearly $27,000 per month on hospitalizations because the physicians receive real-time alerts about the dangerous drug interactions, according to Mississippi officials.

The state Medicaid program is looking to expand the initiative because it consistently has been saving money for 18 months.

The devices also help detect fraud. Kurt Bruckmeier, a physician for about 200 Medicaid beneficiaries in Hattiesburg, Miss., said the system has "helped identify drug abusers who would very likely have gone undetected were it not for our ability to evaluate the full scope of prescriptions they were taking."

Mississippi officials said they did not know of any negative aspects to the program. Florida has launched a similar program with comparable results.

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