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CAREFIRST BLUECROSS BLUESHIELD’S PILOT PROGRAM GIVES PHYSICIANS E-PRESCRIBING TOOL

Software used to reduce prescription errors

August 10, 2004

OWINGS MILLS, MD –American physicians write nearly 4.5 billion prescriptions on paper each year, and if a doctor’s handwriting is stereotypically illegible, errors are a possibility. Each year, medication errors account for 7,000 patient deaths.

In order to improve patient safety and reduce prescription-related costs, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield is teaming with DrFirst to provide an electronic prescription management solution to 500 high-prescribing physicians in the CareFirst network. The physicians participating in the pilot program can use the system for all patients, not just those with CareFirst coverage.

Through the use of a personal digital assistant (PDA) supplied by CareFirst, DrFirst’s Rcopia software allows the physician to confidentially transmit a prescription or renewal for one electronically to the patient’s pharmacy.

“We are engaging in this statewide patient safety and cost reduction initiative because we see a great benefit to our members, our network physicians, the pharmacies and, in fact, the entire health care system in Maryland,” said Dr. Eric Baugh, Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs and Network Management.

The system will not only transmit legible prescriptions directly to pharmacies, minimizing the number of phone calls and faxes that often flow between providers and pharmacies. Some physicians spend up to three hours a day on pharmacy issues, while on the other end, pharmacists may be on the phone for up to four hours a day.

The system will also allow physicians access to a patient’s medication history and allergies, and will alert doctors to dangerous drug-to-drug interactions.

“This technology has the potential to improve one of the most basic parts of the medical process and one of the last components of the health care system to leverage the power of information technology,” said Baugh. “By enrolling 500 physicians who write the highest volume of prescriptions for our members, we expect to improve prescription drug safety, convenience and costs for our members throughout our market.”

CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health care company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products, direct health care and administrative services to more than 3.2 million individuals and groups in Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Delaware.

DrFirst is a Rockville (Md.)-based company that provides integrated solutions using the latest technology designed to enable physicians to save time, cut costs, increase patient satisfaction, reduce risk, and improve quality.

[To learn more about CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, see our web site at http://www.carefirst.com] To receive this news release electronically, call 1-800-914-6397.

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