News Briefs

Docs get free electronic prescribing software

A coalition of technology companies, health plans, and providers will be offering electronic prescribing software free to all physicians. The National ePrescribing Patient Safety Initiative will offer software by Allscripts, called eRx NOW, free to any health care provider with legal authority to prescribe medications. According to the coalition, the software requires no download or new hardware and minimal training, and all patient information will be stored on remote servers in a secure location. Sponsors of the program include Allscripts, Dell Computer, Cisco Systems, Fujitsu Computers of America, Microsoft Corp., Sprint Nextel, Wolters Kluwer Health, SureScripts, Google, Aetna, and WellPoint.

Pennsylvania quality alliance formed

A group of Pennsylvania health care providers and insurers has formed a new organization, the Pennsylvania Health Care Quality Alliance, to "foster transparency in health care and improve patient health." During the next year, the goals for the Alliance are: "To develop a consistent, uniform, statewide approach to measuring health care quality, and to report useful information to both providers and the public using measures that have already been developed and endorsed at a state or federal level, and leveraging existing data sources."

The alliance seeks to enable consumers and businesses in Pennsylvania to compare provider performance, help providers evaluate and improve the quality of their patient care, and enable insurers to evaluate the performance of their provider networks.

Alliance participants include the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), which represents more than 225 hospitals and health systems across the state; the Delaware Valley Healthcare Council of HAP; the Hospital Council of Western Pennsylania; the state's four "Blue" plans; the Pennsylvania Medical Society; representatives from the governor's Office of Health Care Reform; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The alliance intends to focus on measures that will be drawn from those already developed and endorsed by such groups as the Hospital Quality Alliance, the Ambulatory Quality Alliance, the National Quality Forum, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, The Joint Commission, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, and specialty societies.