Healthcare IT leaders kick off government’s e-prescribing drive

With the first phase of Medicare’s mandate for e-prescribing rolling out in January, healthcare IT leaders, led by Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, gathered Tuesday in Boston to jumpstart the initiative.

“One of the beauties of the system is that it will reduce the number of medical mistakes … and tragic results,” Leavittsaid at the National E-prescribing Conference.

“We know it saves lives, we know it saves money, and it’s time to implement it.”

Leavitt tied the nation’s current economic crisis to the rising costs of healthcare and noted that going electronic with prescriptions helps provide cost-savings for patients, doctors and the entire healthcare system.

“It’s an economic imperative in this country,” he said.

Prescription for Conflict: CCHIT, AMA policies set up potential quandary

A rule book used by the federally supported Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology to test electronic health-record systems and the policy manual of the American Medical Association to guide doctors are in apparent conflict over whether it’s a good thing to put a patient’s diagnosis on a prescription.
The dueling CCHIT testing criteria and AMA policy position represent “another classic case of tension between patient privacy and patient safety that we are increasingly seeing with the growing utilization of computers in healthcare,” according to physician informaticist Lyle Berkowitz, medical director of clinical information systems for No<convio:session name=”24″>Page Title</convio:session>rthwestern Memorial Physicians Group in the Chicago area.

The current criteria against which CCHIT tests EHRs that are used by physicians in ambulatory care have two requirements when it comes to diagnoses and prescriptions.

Prescription Data Used To Assess Consumers

Health and life insurance companies have access to a powerful new tool for evaluating whether to cover individual consumers: a health “credit report” drawn from databases containing prescription drug records on more than 200 million Americans.

Collecting and analyzing personal health information in commercial databases is a fledgling industry, but one poised to take off as the nation enters the age of electronic medical records. While lawmakers debate how best to oversee the shift to computerized records, some insurers have already begun testing systems that tap into not only prescription drug information, but also data about patients held by clinical and pathological laboratories.

Calls for doctor-prescription database raise privacy warnings

It’s surprisingly easy for a patient in Florida to get numerous prescriptions of the same drug filled, sometimes in the same day.

Florida is among 15 states that don’t have a government-run centralized database that links all doctors and pharmacies to combat doctor shopping.

Twice it’s been proposed in the state legislature, failing to pass both times.

“There’s an easy way to address this problem, but the state has not made it a priority because there are some privacy concerns, and that’s really just ignorance,” said state Sen. Dave Aronberg, D- Greenacres. “We can save lives and money (by eliminating lengthy investigations) if we implement the database.”

Vt. trial latest battle in legal challenges to data-mining

Closing arguments are scheduled today in Brattleboro, Vt., capping a weeklong federal bench trial that pits the state of Vermont against the pharmaceutical industry and its supporting cast of data-miners.

It is the third trial in New England in which state attorneys general have attempted to defend laws passed by their state legislatures intending to control rising prescription drug costs by limiting pharma access to prescriber-identified prescription drug data.

They Know What’s in Your Medicine Cabinet

How insurance companies dig up applicants’ prescriptions — and use them to deny coverage.
That prescription you just picked up at the drugstore could hurt your chances of getting health insurance.
An untold number of people have been rejected for medical coverage for a reason they never could have guessed: Insurance companies are using huge, commercially available prescription databases to screen out applicants based on their drug purchases.
Privacy and consumer advocates warn that the information can easily be misinterpreted or knowingly misused. At a minimum, the practice is adding another layer of anxiety to a marketplace that many consumers already find baffling. “It’s making it harder to find insurance for people,” says Jay Horowitz, an independent insurance agent in Overland Park, Kan.

Your private health details may already be online

Imagine my surprise when, in the course of doing research for this story, I stumbled upon my own personal health information online.

There it was in black, white, and hypertext blue. My annual mammograms; the visits to the podiatrist for the splinter in my foot; the kind of birth control I use — it was all on my health insurance company’s Web site. And that’s not all: The prescriptions drugs I use were listed on the Web site where I get my prescription drug insurance.

Drug database bill passes

The Alaska House of Representatives voted 23-16 Wednesday to pass a senate bill creating a prescription drug database in Alaska despite objections that it could threaten the privacy rights and security of Alaskans.
The bill empowers the Alaska Board of Pharmacy to place in an electronic file information about every prescription dispensed in the state for certain medications controlled under state law (schedules IA through VA), including medicinal narcotics such as painkillers, stimulants, tranquilizers, sedatives and other drugs that the Legislature might add to the scheduled drug statutes.
The law would apply to patients receiving medications through a pharmacy, not inpatients in a licensed health care facility.
The bill is designed to curb misuse of prescription drugs in Alaska and to deter so-called “doctor hopping” by patients. It would not collect any data that is not already required by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, supporters say.
It will include the date prescriptions were written and filled, how those patients paid the bill, along with their names, addresses and dates of birth, the drug code of the controlled substance, and the name of the pharmacy and pharmacist or practitioner dispensing the drugs.
That kind of information could be used to track prescribing practices and dispensing patterns, and to determine if practitioners are prescribing in an unlawful manner. It would also track individuals obtaining controlled substances with a frequency or in a manner beyond recognized standards for dosage „ exactly the kind of information needed to deter abuse of prescription drugs, sponsors have claimed.
If the system is hacked, however, that data could easily be misused, including alerting criminals to the location of the homes of patients holding prescription drugs, opponents have argued.
Supporters, such as Rep. Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks, said he shared the concerns for privacy that opponents expressed during debate.
“I value personal privacy. I don’t know that there is a person in this room that does not,” he said. “However, I also value the safety and security of soccer moms and the rest of us as we enjoy and pursue the quiet enjoyment of our lives.”
He noted the information to go into the database already is collected in paper form by pharmacists. He said passing the bill would make communities safer by reducing the availability of illegal prescription drugs.
He also said Alaska was joining 40 other states with similar laws in place and following “best practices” on implementing the program.