E-prescribing: Florida insurers team up to offer free e-prescribing service

October 10, 2008

Two major health insurers and two technology companies have partnered to offer an electronic prescribing service to Florida physicians for free.

Two major health insurers and two technology companies have partnered to offer an electronic prescribing service to Florida physicians for free.

The e-prescribing service is available to Florida physicians in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and Humana’s networks who have also joined a health transaction network run by Availity, a Florida tech company.  Membership in the network is free to physicians, says Tony Shepse, a spokesman for Availity, which is owned in part by BCBS and Humana.

The deal is even sweeter for physicians in the Miami and Tampa areas. Prematics, a Virginia IT firm, is offering to set up eligible physicians in those markets with personal digital assistants, e-prescribing software, a thermal printer and wireless broadband Internet access – all for free.  The company will also provide free support and training to participating practices in the two metropolitan areas, says Laura Ahlbin, a spokeswoman for Prematics.

Prematics can afford to pay the up-front costs because the company will be paid by the insurers for prescriptions ordered via its technology, Ahlbin says. “If the physician doesn’t utilize our service, we don’t make any money, so we have an incentive to raise utilization over the long term,” she says.

The electronic prescribing service, called CarePrescribe, could help physicians reduce medication errors and improve productivity, while adding convenience for patients, according to a statement from Availity and Prematics.

Though the two insurance companies are supporting the e-prescribing system, participating doctors may use it to order prescriptions for patients regardless of their health insurers, Ahlbin says. 

Several practices have been using the e-prescribing service in a pilot program for the last three months, including Cutler Ridge Medical Center, near Miami. “We are now more connected with our patients and the overall level of patient satisfaction has improved significantly,” says Damian Williams, MD, of Cutler Ridge.

Availity’s network allows practices to perform administrative tasks, such as checking benefits eligibility and submitting claims, Shepse says. The company bills the network as a “single online connection to multiple insurance carriers.”