Sanford Health physicians and patients have been enjoying the many benefits of electronic prescriptions in Sanfords electronic health record system since December 2008.
Realizing that e-prescribing would increase efficiency and patient safety and make available financial incentives from the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, or MIPPA, Sanford Health embarked on the project to bring e-prescribing to their patients and providers in September 2008.
The project involved an integrated group of IT clinical, interface, server and billing teams, together with physicians, local pharmacists, clinic management and clinic operations staff. IT resources included four full-time employees performing roughly 200 hours of work. Clinic staff contributed about 20 hours of consultation. Interface costs amounted to approximately $12,000. By using the building blocks and project plans provided by the electronic medical record vendor, Sanford Health was able to meet the strict timelines and documentation requirements. Integration with the EMR software allows providers to e-prescribe more easily, which has increased physician satisfaction and acceptance.
Sanford Health attributes the success of this project to the partnerships and close collaboration of the various integrated teams and providers. This was especially evident in the many rural areas served by Sanford Health, where cooperation between local physicians, pharmacists and clinical staff was essential.
According to Daniel Heinemann, physician and chief medical officer for Sanford Health, with the second highest utilization per prescriber in the nation among clients of their e-prescribing network, Sanfords 200 active providers generate approximately 40,000 transactions per month.
Participating pharmacies report improved efficiency and accuracy. The instant interaction between physicians and pharmacists has dramatically reduced pharmacy callbacks and increased patient safety by eliminating errors caused by handwriting or poor fax image quality. Access to a complete prescription history reduces concerns relating to drug interactions and poly-pharmacy problems and enhances continuity of care. Electronic prescriptions reduce the possibility of prescription fraud by eliminating paper prescriptions that might be copied, altered or stolen. Prescription benefit information, along with alerts of economical medication alternatives reduces healthcare costs to the patient and insurance providers.
The small rural community of Armour, S.D., population of about 782, was one of the first Sanford affiliated sites to implement ePrescribing. The local pharmacy installed the ePrescribing system while the hospital-based physician group installed Sanford Healths EHR. Patients at the Prairie Health Clinic can now have their prescriptions electronically transmitted and find them ready for pickup at their convenience. If necessary, prescriptions are easily sent to a pharmacy in another town.
There are strong motivations for physicians to implement e-prescribing. Section 132 of the MIPPA Act authorizes a new and separate incentive program for individual eligible professionals who are successful electronic prescribers, providing Medicare reimbursement incentives of up to 2%. It is also a near certainty that e-prescribing will be one of the requirements for meaningful use for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Sanford Health will seek funding through the stimulus act to expand this highly beneficial system further.
Sanford Health is a fast-growing health system, with a 500-bed tertiary medical center as the flagship that includes a university teaching center as well as a strong research establishment. Sanford Health has a regionally recognized cancer center, childrens hospital and heart hospital, all on the main campus. The Sanford Childrens Health Research Center has working relationships with the Mayo Clinic and Burnham Institute in La Jolla, Calif.
Sanford USD Medical Center is located in a metropolitan area of 250,000 people and is the areas largest employer. The Sanford Health System encompasses a four-state area, includes more than 20 rural hospitals ranging in size of five to 50 beds, along with a network of over 100 clinics, 400 physicians, skilled long-term-care facilities, diverse outreach services and provides essential healthcare to many critical-access areas.
Chief information officer
Sioux Falls, S.D.
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