High cost slows RFID implementation

June 4, 2007

RFID progress still slow; ezScriptWriter for legible Rxs; reducing drug diversion through ImageWare Forensic Medicine Technology; Know Your Number health-risk addessment tool; e-prescriptions grow

There is little doubt that Radio Frequency identification (RFID) technology carries great potential for increasing speed, efficiency, and especially safety in the pharmaceutical industry. Thus, the slow pace of change has surprised even the most ardent critics. According to a recent survey by Health Industry Insights, high cost remains the primary roadblock to greater RFID implementation in health care. The survey of 143 industry leaders also cited the lack of a demonstrated return on investment and the lack of item-level frequency of standards for the technology.

The slow pace of RFID progress has not stopped the move for e-pedigree systems, which track the progression of drug products in the supply chain. With continued pressure from Florida and soon California, as well as federal regulation, many companies are scrambling to implement technologies to handle e-pedigrees. As an example, Associated Pharmacies, a purchasing cooperative of more than 1,000 pharmacies, recently deployed SupplyScape's e-pedigree data-management solution. Cardinal Health has also announced it would integrate RFID technology into its Sacramento, Calif., distribution center this year.

Do you know a physician who is still sending in indecipherable prescriptions but who is not yet ready to commit to e-prescribing? If so, ezScriptWriter may have the answer you've been waiting for. The inexpensive Windows-based program is HIPAA-compliant and creates legible prescriptions on the computer. The prescriptions, printed out, are sure to make any pharmacist happy. For more information, send your handwriting-impaired prescriber to http://www.ezscriptwriter.com/.

Consortium fights diversion with biometrics

Patients, Physicians, and Pharmacists Fighting Diversion, a nonprofit group focused on reducing drug diversion, is beginning a pilot test of the ImageWare Forensic Medicine Technology. Doctors capture fingerprints and facial images of patients needing controlled substances. The images are stored in a centralized database that is HIPAA-compliant. Initially, the system will be used to discourage "doctor shopping" by patients but may be expanded to pharmacies to ensure that the proper patient is picking up the medications. For more information on the system, visit http://www.iwsinc.com/.

Kerr rolls out disease risk-assessment tool

Looking to better evaluate the health risks of many of its North Carolina patients, Kerr Drug has introduced the Know Your Number health-risk assessment tool from BioSignia. The software program is designed to predict the onset of preventable diseases. It compares a patient's current health status against peers, reveals which chronic disease risks are modifiable, and even lets patients know what factors (e.g., lack of exercise, smoking) are contributing to their overall health risk. Reports of final results allow patients to track their progress. To find out more about the system, go to http://www.knowyournumber.com/.

E-prescriptions continue to grow

While RFID adoption has been slow, it seems that e-prescription adoption is gaining steam. eRx Network recently announced that it has transmitted more than 4.5 million e-prescriptions in Massachusetts. The eRx program has averaged 375,000 e-prescriptions per month in 2007. The network was formed jointly by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Tufts Health Plan, and Neighborhood Health Plan with technology from DrFirst and Zix. In addition, Zix recently released a new version of its PocketScript e-prescription system that now supports use of National Provider Identification (NPI) numbers.