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Medscape J Med. 2008; 10(7): 168.
Published online Jul 18, 2008.
PMCID: PMC2525480

Building Physician Connectivity for e-Prescribing

Kevin Hutchinson, President and Chief Executive Officer and George D. Lundberg, MD, Editor-in-Chief; Consulting Professor
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Dr. George Lundberg: Hello, I'm Dr. George Lundberg, Editor-in-Chief of the Medscape Journal of Medicine. We are in Washington, DC, today talking with Mr. Kevin Hutchinson, the President and CEO of Prematics, a company in Bethesda, Maryland. Thank you very much for being with us this morning.

Mr. Kevin Hutchinson: Thank you, George. Thanks for having me.

Dr. Lundberg: Mr. Hutchinson is my favorite health informatics expert, and we go back a long time, which we will disclose to our readers and authors. You once worked at Medscape.

Mr. Hutchinson: I did.

Dr. Lundberg: In fact, you were our Chief Operating Officer back 7 or 8 years ago, something like that.

Mr. Hutchinson: I was.

Dr. Lundberg: You have most recently been with SureScripts, from 2002 to 2008, and now you have come on board with Prematics. What is the difference between SureScripts and Prematics?

Mr. Hutchinson: It is a very good question, George. If you look at SureScripts, one of the things we missed in the electronic prescribing world was the fact that we didn't have an infrastructure that could connect to pharmacies or enable refills to be sent to physicians from pharmacies. Everything was by fax in the old days. My goal at SureScripts was to try and build a national network that would allow physicians to have connectivity to those pharmacies to have a 2-way exchange of information with pharmacists about patients, specifically obviously around medications. After 5 1/2 years of building up that network, it is very successful and operational: More than 95% of all pharmacies are now certified on the network, and about 75% of all pharmacies in the US are actually live on the network and exchanging prescriptions with physicians. However, we haven't made a lot of progress on the physician side in the last 5 1/2 years – of getting physicians to actually adopt technology to utilize those networks.

Dr. Lundberg: So are you going to try to do that with Prematics? Is that the idea?

Mr. Hutchinson: I am. Prematics is a very different and unique approach of how to go about getting physicians to adopt a technology and utilize the technology and the software to actually write prescriptions electronically.

Dr. Lundberg: How do you think you are going to do that?

Mr. Hutchinson: It is a different model. We believe, as I found that most physicians believe, that a lot of people benefit from electronic prescribing. Patients benefit in the sense of safety, but also in the sense of ease of use and convenience, because the prescriptions are ready when they walk into the pharmacy to pick them up, vs dropping off a piece of paper. Health plans and employers benefit because physicians tend to write more generic utilization when they know generics are available, and these systems can let them know when generics are available for particular medications. Employers and health plans also benefit from the avoidance of drug interactions, avoidance of emergency room visits, or hospitalizations.

Dr. Lundberg: These are all good things – no argument. How are you going to get doctors to do it?

Mr. Hutchinson: We have reached out to the health plans and said, “You should really help us in this area. Focus on how physicians should be adopting the technology.” So with Prematics, we go into a physician's practice not just with a piece of software and say, “Here is our service; will you use it?” We actually go in and install the Wi-Fi access points, the wireless connections, the Internet access, provide the printers, provide the PDAs, and then we monitor that environment and support it. So we have an infrastructure inside of that practice that we actually monitor and support and provide the software that allows the e-prescribing to take place.

Dr. Lundberg: Who pays for it?

Mr. Hutchinson: The health plans pay for it. In relationships with the health plans, we strike an arrangement where it is a shared risk environment. We are putting in all the capital to go into the practice, but the health plan is paying a transaction fee to Prematics for the prescriptions that are written electronically.

Dr. Lundberg: Do you have a sales force?

Mr. Hutchinson: We don't really have a sales force. We have physician recruiters that we work with in partnership with the health plan to recruit physicians to utilize the service. It is not really a sales force, per se. Once we make physicians aware that this service is available and the health plans have put these physicians on their list of sponsored physicians, it is a pretty easy sale to make.

Dr. Lundberg: Any particular parts of the country that you are going to focus on?

Mr. Hutchinson: That is a really good question. We kind of view this rollout as [being] like the cable model many, many years ago, if you think about it. A cable organization would go into a particular region and say, “We are going to wire this region.” We are going to wire Pennsylvania first, so we have been working in central Pennsylvania for about a year now in launching that market. Recently we signed deals with Availity, which is owned by Humana; Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida; Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas and Illinois, which is the HCSC consortium, and we are going to now move into the Florida and Texas market. So for the foreseeable future, for 2008 and probably half of 2009, we are going to be very focused on Pennsylvania, Florida, and Texas.

Dr. Lundberg: When your system is installed and physicians' offices are using it, can they use that technology for other things?

Mr. Hutchinson: Not today. The PDAs are locked down to basically be single-use devices, primarily because we have seen in the past that when other things are loaded to those PDA devices, they can't handle a lot of multiple things going on with it. We think in time that as the PDAs continue to expand in their functionality and capabilities, that we will move to having a more multi-use device. But for right now, we think that as we are getting launched, the single-use device is appropriate.

Dr. Lundberg: Yes, you want to focus and I understand that fully. Yet when somebody learns how to use something and they are not unhappy with it and not uncomfortable with it, they may realize that there are other advantages that might also be brought. Oh, how I hope viral marketing works with you, with doctors saying, “This is great stuff.” Going into their meetings and saying to their peers in another place, “You really ought to do this. This is wonderful.” That is when it is going to work. That is going to work well.

Mr. Hutchinson: Right. We have heard from physicians in Pennsylvania and already we are getting calls from the Florida and Texas markets, just since we've announced that we are moving into those markets, because they know and their comments back to us are, “You are the first organization that actually understands the right way to do this.”

Dr. Lundberg: Why don't you tell our readers, our viewers, our listeners, exactly how they can contact you.

Mr. Hutchinson: Our Web site. You can go to http://www.prematics.com/, and there is a section in there where you can contact us, if you want to reach us. Also, as we move into the Florida and Texas market, we will be working through the Availity organization; Availity actually has thousands of physicians today who use their services for claims-processing and other things, because of their ownership by those health plans. So Availity in the Florida and Texas market is also a contact point that they already have a relationship with today.

Dr. Lundberg: I appreciate you being with us, and I thank you for being with us. We have been talking with Mr. Kevin Hutchinson, CEO of Prematics. His company is going to help doctors take care of patients better by electronic prescribing out of their office. I hope one of these days that one of my doctors uses something like this. Thank you for being with us. I am Dr. George Lundberg, Editor-in-Chief of the Medscape Journal of Medicine.


Reader Comments on: Building Physician Connectivity for e-Prescribing See reader comments on this article and provide your own.

Readers are encouraged to respond to George Lundberg, MD, Editor in Chief of The Medscape Journal of Medicine, for the editor's eyes only or for possible publication as an actual Letter in the Medscape Journal via email: ten.epacsdem@grebdnulg

Contributor Information

Kevin Hutchinson, Prematics, Inc., 8230 Leesburg Pike, Suite 700, Vienna, Virginia 22182.

George D. Lundberg, The Medscape Journal of Medicine; Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California Author's email: ten.epacsdem@grebdnulg.

Articles from The Medscape Journal of Medicine are provided here courtesy of WebMD/Medscape Health Network

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