Friday, March 03, 2006

Horizon BCBS - New Rx Tool

Physicians in Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey Network Using New Caremark E-Prescribing Tool to Enhance Patient Adherence

(NASHVILLE, TN and NEWARK, NJ Feb 27, 2006) — Caremark Rx, Inc., a leading provider of pharmaceutical services, and client Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey have enrolled 765 New Jersey physicians in an iScribe electronic prescribing program that now offers patient adherence information — the newest tool available to enhance patient care and safety.
In one of the largest and most successful programs of its kind, hundreds of high-prescribing physicians in the Horizon BCBSNJ network have agreed to trade in their pads and pens for PDAs and Caremark iScribe technology. With the new adherence tool, physicians are notified if a prescription entered via iScribe has not been processed within a specific timeframe. These alerts enable physicians to follow up by counseling patients on the importance of taking medications as prescribed. Non-adherence to prescription therapy results in 125,000 deaths annually and costs the U.S. healthcare system an estimated $100 billion, according to the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. The “not filled” message can be included in a monthly electronic report sent directly to the physician’s hand-held PDA, where it will appear the next time the doctor clicks on that particular patient’s name. “Caremark is working with forward-thinking clients such as Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey to find additional ways to expand the benefits of e-prescribing to physicians and patients,” said Jan Berger, MD, MJ, senior vice president and chief clinical officer at Caremark. “The iScribe adherence program is a logical expansion of our PBM services to the point of care. Caremark is providing physicians with access to information never before available to them, and this represents a huge advance in the delivery of care.” Over the coming months, thousands of patients visiting the New Jersey physicians will see first-hand, and likely for the first time, how electronic prescribing offers greater safety and convenience for them and enhances efficiency for physicians and their staffs. The iScribe system has been installed in the practices of 665 New Jersey physicians in the Horizon BCBSNJ network, and they have written 408,000 electronic prescriptions to date. Another 100 physicians will have the technology by month-end, marking another successful step in a joint effort to introduce and enhance the technology in New Jersey. “Using the Caremark iScribe system, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is taking advantage of the latest technology to provide our network physicians with a powerful tool and critical information to ensure their patients, our members, are observing directives for their prescription drug usage,” said Dr. Richard Popiel, MD, MBA, vice president and chief medical officer for Horizon BCBSNJ. “We are committed to making it easier for our network physicians to treat our members. Electronic prescribing is one of the ways we are doing so.” As part of its Health Connections Initiative, Horizon BCBSNJ is investing $5 million to provide physicians in its network the latest technologies to assist them in their practices. Access to the iScribe electronic prescribing software and the hardware is one component of the program. By providing the necessary electronic prescribing tools, Horizon BCBSNJ hopes to overcome physician reluctance to adopt the technology because of start-up costs. The Caremark iScribe tools enable physicians to securely generate prescriptions using a handheld PDA or desktop computer. Physicians can then print prescriptions for the patient during the office visit or send them directly to the patient’s pharmacy of choice via a secure Internet connection. Improved patient safety is a key contributor to increasing interest in the technology, especially in avoiding adverse drug interactions. According to the Institute of Medicine, adverse drug events are the fourth leading cause of death and result in as much as $136 billion in additional costs annually. In addition, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of year-2000 data showed that improper prescriptions were given to elderly Americans in approximately one out of every 12 visits to a physician. Electronic prescribing improves patient safety by reducing medication errors at the point of care and at the pharmacy, offers greater convenience to patients and reduces potentially time-consuming calls to pharmacies that can affect efficiency in physicians’ practices. The system is fully compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which governs the management and use of confidential patient information.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Assurant- Health Savings Accounts (1/31/2006)

Assurant Health CEO Offers Perspective on President’s Proposal to Expand Health Savings Accounts, Consumer Choice

In tonight’s State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush is expected to tout Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) as a key element of his ongoing healthcare reform agenda, including provisions that may include raising the annual HSA contribution amount. The President may also discuss providing tax credits to individuals who purchase Individual Medical insurance coverage.
“The President’s strong support of HSAs reflects the many benefits they are providing to millions of Americans. They are reducing healthcare costs, making healthcare more accessible and putting consumers in charge of their own healthcare decision making and financing,” said Don Hamm, President and CEO of Assurant Health. Assurant Health offered the first HSA and is a leading driver of their growth.
Hamm also believes the new provisions will encourage many more consumers to purchase their own healthcare coverage. “HSAs have already given consumers powerful new healthcare options. The new proposals will make HSAs even more flexible and affordable—and therefore more attractive to Americans with or without coverage. We also strongly support tax equity for individuals purchasing their own health insurance.”
A recent survey by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), "Individual Health Insurance: A Comprehensive Survey of Affordability, Access, and Benefits," reinforces the many benefits of HSAs. Recent findings show that:
• HSAs are gaining momentum. Preliminary results from a January 2006 survey by AHIP revealed that enrollment in HSA plans has tripled over the last twelve months. More than three million lives now covered by an HSA-qualified high-deductible health plan.
• HSAs have broad appeal. HSAs are taking hold across all segments of the population. Seventy percent of Assurant Health’s HSA policyholders have been families with children. 61 percent are over the age of 40. 29 percent have household incomes of less than $50,000. And importantly, 44 percent of applicants did not indicate they had prior health insurance coverage. This suggests that HSAs have powerful appeal to those who live without health insurance coverage of any kind.
• HSAs are a valuable financial tool. HSAs are already providing millions of Americans with a valuable tax-free savings and retirement planning vehicle. The next generation of HSAs will look more like 401(k) retirement accounts. For example, Assurant Health provides online tools that help HSA owners manage account transactions with an integrated, secure website, as well as through a debit card and checkbook. It has recently expanded its offering to allow HSA owners to invest account assets in mutual funds.