November 25, 2022


e-Prescriptions Would Save Lives

PaperFree Tampa has two years to convince 10,000 doctors to switch.

Art Levy | 7/1/2009

Doctors have been slow to give up their prescription pads, even though electronic prescriptions could prevent many of the mistakes that wind up killing 7,000 people in the U.S. every year.

Kathy Castor
“This is exactly the type of initiative the Obama administration and my House Energy and Commerce Committee had in mind when we drafted the recovery act and set aside $19 billion.” — U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor
An initiative called PaperFree Tampa Bay is aiming to convince 10,000 physicians practicing in the 10-county Tampa Bay region to switch to electronic prescribing within two years. Backed by USF Health and California-based medical software vendor Allscripts, the first phase of the plan focuses on 3,200 Hillsborough County doctors. Ten medical school students are visiting 200 doctors’ offices this summer to demonstrate Allscripts’ ePrescribe software, which the doctors will get for free if they go electronic.

Subsequent phases involving other counties will depend on funding. PaperFree Tampa Bay has applied for $18 million in federal stimulus money, which would allow it to hire 111 software trainers and 21 support staff.

Even if it gets the $18 million, the campaign still faces challenges. A program to get Florida doctors to switch to electronic medical records in 2007 ended without even spending all of its $3-million grant, says David Schlaifer, CEO of Doctors’ Administrative Solutions in Tampa. Schlaifer, who helped lead that effort, says resistance from physicians was “probably the biggest impediment.”

EPaperFree Tampa Bay has two years to convince 10,000 doctors to switch to electronic prescriptions.
Physicians who continue to resist will be under increasing pressure. President Obama has proposed requiring that all medical records be electronic within five years. And the federal government’s Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act offers financial incentives to doctors willing to switch to e-prescriptions before 2011. It will begin imposing penalties on doctors who haven’t switched by 2013.

“We have to stop talking about making medicine more service oriented,” says Stephen Klasko, CEO of USF Health, “and we have to just do it.”

Tags: Southwest, Healthcare

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