Technology update: Congress pushes forward with e-prescriptions

July 14, 2008

New technology news for pharmacists.

June saw renewed attention to technology issues in Washington.

The week of June 9th was proclaimed Health IT Week as a number of vendors, provider organizations, payers, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, government agencies, and professional associations attempted to draw attention to the importance of information technology in the healthcare system.

While not much that was specific came out of Health IT week, two separate bills in the Senate contained concrete proposals that would push doctors towards adopting electronic prescriptions for Medicare. The bills proposed by Max Baucus (D, Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R, Iowa) both proposed to offer physicians additional incentives for adopting e-prescribing. The e-prescription provisions were part of larger bills that are not likely to pass before the November election, but indicate that both Republicans and Democracts are serious about pushing e-prescriptions. Expect even more activity next year.

Omron Healthcare ( http://www.bpnumbers.com/) announced that two of its blood pressure monitors and a pedometer will utilize Microsoft's HealthVault ( http://www.healthvault.com/) electronic medical records platform. Users can upload device data to the HealthVault platform and can manage their health information through a free Web-based account that enables them to collect and store information, as well as share this information with family members and physicians.

Wireless wristband printer

Zebra Technologies is now offering a cartridge-based patient I.D. bar-code printer for hospital and health-system pharmacies. Users load cartridges of Zebra's Z Band antimicrobial-coated thermal wristbands and the bar code is printed directly on the wristbands. The printers have smart cards that optimize print intensity and automatically calibrate for band size.

Iowa selects Rx pad provider

The Iowa Medical Society selected Standard Register ( http://www.securescrip.com/) to provide its members with tamper-resistant prescription pads that meet the higher security standards that will be required on Oct. 1 for Medicaid prescriptions. The pads will combine heat-sensitive inks, micro-printing, and unique background patterns with artificial watermarks, chemical-sensitive coatings, warning bands, and consecutive numbers.

LifeChek installs automated counter

Walgreens boosts security with DVR

Walgreens is installing a digital video recording system from Ionit Technologies ( http://www.ionittech.com/) to monitor its more than 6,000 stores and distribution centers. The surveillance technology can compress data up to 2,000 times and interface with both analog and digital cameras.