Blue Cross of California, Thousand Oaks, Calif., has expanded its physicians technology initiative to include 1,040 safety net physicians in California. Traditionally, safety net physicians provide care to the uninsured, poor and low-income patients, including those enrolled in the Medi-Cal and Healthy Families insurance programs.With an additional $2 million in funding, this technology initiative will help these physicians improve patient care, achieve greater efficiency and improve administrative functions. These new technologies are intended to provide greater access to information and data exchange via the Internet or wireless handheld devices.

Free of charge, these pre-selected safety net physicians will have their choice of either:

A Prescription Improvement Package: A handheld electronic prescribing unit, which will enable physicians to electronically generate prescriptions. Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) for prescriptions has the capability to issue prompts that warn against the possibility of drug interaction, allergy or overdose, as well as provide information that helps physicians keep up with new drugs as they are introduced into the market. CPOE also has the capability to provide drug-specific information that eliminates confusion among drug names that sound alike, improve communication between physicians and pharmacists and reduce health care costs due to improved efficiencies and fewer errors. This option includes a wireless handheld PDA, a wireless access point and a one-year subscription to an e-prescribing service.Physicians will be able to use this system to easily write prescriptions and have them automatically faxed or e-mailed to the pharmacy of their choice.

A Paperwork Reduction Package: A fully loaded professional grade Dell desktop computer and Dell printer to facilitate online communication, including paperless submission of claims. Blue Cross estimates there are thousands of physicians still engaged in manual paper claim processing, adding administrative cost and time to a burdened health care system. By choosing the Paperwork Reduction Package, which works directly with Blue Cross' information technologies, physicians can utilize an Internet connection to submit claims, receive reimbursements and track and provide patient information in a more timely fashion. This package is intended for doctors who are not making full daily use of computer technology or the Internet. Doctors will also be able to use Blue Cross' Provider Access Web site (or other Web sites) where member eligibility, claim status and medical policies can be reviewed and verified.

Launched in January 2004 to more than 19,000 of its parent company's network physicians nationwide, the original retail value of the technology initiative was approximately $40 million. The retail value of the expanded program has grown to approximately $42 million.

Source: Blue Cross of California

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