Blue Cross of California has announced it will give away $2 million in free desktop or handheld computers to 1,040 of its network physicians who treat a high number of poor or uninsured patients.
The giveaway is an extension of a far larger initiative launched in January by Blue Cross' parent, WellPoint Health Networks.
Under that $40 million initiative, WellPoint will provide free computers, software and Internet connections to nearly 19,000 network physicians and negotiated substantial discounts on the equipment for its 170,000 other contracting doctors.
The Blues expansion will give safety-net physicians their choice of a Dell computer system, which lets them access patient records and file claims via the Internet, or a personal digital assistant that submits prescriptions to pharmacists electronically and flags potential drug interactions.
"The more physicians who can communicate electronically, the more improvement we will see in the delivery of medical care," said David Helwig, Blue Cross president and chief executive officer.