All U.S. physicians should have free online access to electronic prescribing technology before the end of the month, courtesy of a new initiative from various tech firms, health insurers, and major physician groups. The $100 million National E-Prescribing Patient Safety Initiative (NEPSI) launched Tuesday with a Washington press conference attended by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Medicare chief Dr. Mark McClellan, as well as what one speaker called a "who's who of technology across the United States."
Electronic health records vendor Allscripts is providing the Web-based software called eRx NOW, Wolters Kluwer Health the drug-interaction checking, and SureScripts the electronic connectivity to pharmacies. Other participants include computer makers Dell and Fujitsu, as well as Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and, for real-time mobile access, Sprint Nextel. Nationally, Aetna and WellPoint have pledged to offer the financial support that long has been lacking from payers, while Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey has joined on a local level. Google is building a custom search engine for users. Additionally, 13 regional healthcare provider organizations--notably Brown & Toland Medical Group in San Francisco and the LSU Health Network in Louisiana--have agreed to assist with recruiting physician users to the system, which should be available nationwide by Jan. 31. Their first challenge be convincing a skeptical physician community that NEPSI is not a soft drink that contributes to the nation's obesity problem.
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