A person you might not expect to be is an authority on electronic prescribing.
Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, which represents investor-owned hospitals and hospital chains, lauds the promise that e-prescribing holds when it comes to reducing errors, improving outcomes and eventually driving down costs.
"It also provides physicians information to help prevent mistaken prescriptions," he added.
Kahn, a longtime Washington player who once headed a lobbying group for the health insurance industry, is both a member of the American Health Information Community and a member of the board of directors of Zix Corp., the maker of PocketScript, a wireless e-prescribing device.
AHIC, which advises the federal government on its nationwide health information technology initiatives, recommended in November 2007 that Medicare require participating physicians to electronically prescribe medications. Kahn stresses that he participates on AHIC as a representative of the hospital industry and not as a representative of Zix, which clearly would benefit financially from a federal mandate to use e-prescribing.
"This is a situation where the secretary (HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt) wants the best thinking from people involved in various activities," Kahn said. "If anything, they have the outside members to bring experience to the table." He said that separate from being a Zix board member, he has always championed e-health initiatives. "I think e-prescribing is motherhood and apple pie," he said. "Unquestionably, e-prescribing will improve healthcare."
Kahn said he receives about $19,000 in annual compensation for his work as a board member. Kahn said he owns 3,300 shares of Zix stock with options to buy more than 50,000 shares. On Tuesday, Zix's stock price opened at $4.06.
Zix also does business with a number of Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans by way of its eRx Collaborative, a program where the payer community picks up the tab for providers who use Zix's PocketScript hardware on a trial basis. One such participant, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, worked with researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, as part of the program.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association has been a strong advocate of e-prescribing and recently backed a federal mandate on physicians to adopt such tools. The association's president, Scott Serota, like Kahn, is a member of AHIC.
This story initially appeared in this week's edition of Modern Healthcare magazine.
What do you think? Write us with your comments at [email protected]. Please include your name, title and hometown.