Electronic prescription-writing software will be offered free to every doctor in the United States. The product, eRxNow, has been developed by a coalition of technology companies and healthcare businesses.
A conference was held on Tuesday to announce the product. Representatives of the participating companies spoke, as did Newt Gingrich and others. (Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation has been active in medical IT issues.)
The product was developed by the National ePrescribing Patient Safety Initiative (NEPSI). Corporate sponsors include health insurers Wellpoint and Aetna, and tech companies such as Dell, Microsoft, Sprint, and Fujitsu.
Gingrich and other speakers emphasized the deaths and illnesses that are caused by improperly processed prescriptions, according to one account of the presentation. The president of physician software company Allscripts also acknowledged they hope this initiative will eventually create profitable business opportunities.
The unanswered question: Will doctors’ offices use this service? Presenters said that someone could learn to use the system in a half-hour – but will they? Medical office staff won’t take on a new routine task without encouragement from doctors. So, the success or failure of this initiative rests in large part on how seriously doctors take the initiative’s mission.
A number of health software products have failed because of these “soft” human factors. They, and not the technical issues, are the greatest challenges facing this initiative’s backers.