Baton Rouge – A new electronic system for the prescribing of medications being launched in April will provide Medicaid physicians in Louisiana access to cutting-edge technology to provide safe an efficient prescribing services as well as help drive down medication costs. Perhaps most importantly, this new program will increase the quality of the Medicaid prescription drug program.
Approximately 65 percent of Louisiana’s Medicaid patients (737,380 people) received a pharmacy service last year. This resulted in Medicaid paying for more than 9.4 million prescriptions.
This year, LDH expects to spend about $537 million on pharmacy expenditures.
Being introduced by the Department of Health and Hospitals, this hand-held electronic system will allow physicians to prescribe medications via wireless devices. The devices, similar to a state-of-the-art cell phone, can access Medicaid’s Preferred Drug List, patient-specific prescription histories, Clinical Pharmacology© drug information, and drug interaction screening tools. The system provides a 100-day history of all Medicaid drugs dispensed to a specific patient, allowing physicians to better monitor and consider all patient medications.
By having the Preferred Drug List accessible on the handheld device, the doctor has immediate access to a list of the most safe, effective and cost-efficient medications available to Medicaid patients. Because the program also stores the last 100 days of a patient’s medication history, it can help prescribers prevent the writing of drugs with harmful interactions or duplicate prescriptions.
Point-of-care technology initiatives such as this are already established in other states including Florida and Mississippi where they have been shown to prevent errors, help physicians make more informed decisions and save the states millions of dollars.
LDH Secretary Alan Levine said this is a win-win, win-win for the Medicaid program.
“Patients will get the proper medications. Pharmacists will not have to guess at what a doctor wrote, and doctors will have the confidence that their patient actually goes to the pharmacy and has the prescription filled. Finally, the state will save money because this initiative reduces the potential of medication errors before they occur,” said Levine.
Levine said LDH will spend $1.2 million (or about $2,350 per device) to put this technology into the offices of about 500 Medicaid providers. The expected savings from this investment is estimated at roughly $4.8 million annually.
The savings come from reducing the number of prescriptions per patient, reducing the cost of each prescription by using generic instead of brand-name drugs and by using drugs from the Medicaid Preferred Drug List. This method actually makes prescribing safer because the program checks for harmful interactions between other drugs prescribed to a patient.
To make this technology a reality, LDH has partnered with Gold Standard, Inc. of Tampa, Fla. Gold Standard, a qualified contractor with Medicaid experience, will provide the devices and necessary computer applications under the brand name eMPOWERx®. Gold Standard will also prepare physician offices with the hardware and software to be able to update the devices daily with patient information and train participating doctors to effectively use the database.
“We firmly believe that physicians want to make the best decisions for patients but don’t always have the most timely and accurate information on which to base those clinical decisions. The Louisiana Department of Health will provide prescribers with a valuable tool that has proven to save lives and money,” said David Medvedeff, President of Gold Standard.
Gold Standard helped Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by identifying the critical need for doctors to access evacuee prescription histories with the deployment of KatrinaHealth.org. This service allowed medical personnel responding to the disaster to search thousands of prescription histories for evacuees.