Blues' RX Drug Formulary Moving to Doctors' PDAs Through ePocrates

Oct 18, 2002, 01:00 ET from Regence BlueShield

    SEATTLE, Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Physicians throughout Washington will
 soon be able to download -- to their handheld personal data assistants -- the
 prescription-drug formulary used by Regence BlueShield. Regence BlueShield has
 one of the largest networks of participating physicians in the state.
     A formulary is a list of prescription drugs covered by a health plan. Many
 doctors in Washington already use PDA software called the ePocrates Rx(TM)
 drug-reference guide. Because of an agreement signed this week by The Regence
 Group with ePocrates Inc., the physicians will be able to refer anytime to the
 current Blues formulary on their handheld devices.
     The ePocrates' software with the Regence BlueShield formulary will help
 doctors prescribe drugs more effectively by showing not only drug-benefit
 information but also up-to-date drug facts. The PDA screen presents what dose
 should be prescribed depending on the condition. It also describes potential
 adverse reactions and possible interactions with other drugs.
     "Through this high-tech tool we'll help physicians serve their patients
 better. It streamlines the prescription-writing process," said David Clark,
 Regence vice president of Pharmacy Services. "Today many doctors prescribe
 drugs that are not on our formulary. With the formulary information available
 on the doctors' PDAs, we'll eliminate a lot of the inconvenience for doctors,
 members and pharmacies. This brings all the information together, including
 medication choices and clinical and formulary information."
     A popular drug reference, ePocrates Rx(TM) is used by more than 290,000
 physicians nationwide. It combines formulary information from health plans,
 hospitals, provider organizations and pharmacy benefit management (PBM)
 companies with clinical data -- such as dosing, adverse events, cautions and
 drug interactions.
     Washington physicians using ePocrates Rx(TM) will have instant access to
 information on drugs covered at lower patient co-pays, adult and pediatric
 dosing, prior authorization requirements and quantity limits -- all downloaded
 from the Internet into a PDA and viewed at the point of care.
     "Integrating the Regence formulary into ePocrates Rx(TM) allows doctors to
 select the right drug the first time. It lets them check the drug-benefit
 coverage while they're looking up clinical information," said
 Richard Fiedotin, M.D., ePocrates' vice president of Business Development. "It
 also reduces the time spent on paperwork and pharmacy phone calls. This gives
 doctors more time with their clinical practice."
     Washington physicians will be able to begin to add the Regence BlueShield
 formulary within the next few weeks. They will be notified when the formulary
 is available.
     Formularies from other Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans are part of
 ePocrates Rx(TM). These include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Michigan
 Blue Care Network and Blue Shield of California, as well as many other
 national and regional health plans.
     The ePocrates product was recently selected as the Best Enterprise and
 Best Overall winner for software developed for handheld devices. It was chosen
 from more than 5,000 Palm OS(R) applications. The award was presented by
 PalmSource Inc, the leading provider of operating system software and the Palm
 OS(R) subsidiary of Palm. Palm chose ePocrates because of its widespread
 adoption by the medical community.
     A recent study showed that physicians using the ePocrates Rx(TM) handheld
 electronic drug reference guide could avoid one to two adverse events per
 week. The study was conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital and published in
 the May/June issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics
 Association. The study also showed that the drug guide saved time for
 physicians and improved the physician-patient relationship.
     Regence BlueShield is the Washington leading health plan. The company
 provides coverage for more than 1.1 members. It is also part of The Regence
 Group, an affiliation of four Blue Plans in the intermountain and northwest
 regions. The other Plans are Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Regence
 BlueCross BlueShield of Utah and Regence BlueShield of Idaho. Together they
 cover some three million members.
     The nation's largest handheld clinician network, ePocrates Inc. serves
 more than 620,000 registered health-care professionals. In addition to
 ePocrates Rx(TM), the company offers a clinical suite of products, ePocrates
 Rx Pro, which includes an herbal database and an infectious disease
 application. ePocrates also offers content hosting, messaging, market research
 and clinical trial recruitment capabilities via its proprietary network.
     Headquartered in San Mateo, ePocrates is a privately held company led by
 president and CEO John Voris, former COO of PCS and veteran of Eli Lilly.
 Richard Fiedotin, MD, and Jeff Tangney founded the company in 1998.
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SOURCE Regence BlueShield