One nationwide network will support e-prescribing

The nation’s two major e-prescribing networks are merging and will form a single, comprehensive network for the exchange of prescriptions and related information.

RxHub and SureScripts will each bring different expertise to the newly merged organization, which will be known for now as SureScripts-RxHub.

RxHub was founded by companies that manage pharmacy benefits and has focused on delivering medication histories and eligibility and benefits information to doctors, other prescribers and pharmacies. SureScripts was founded by two associations of drug stores and has focused on linking doctor’s offices and pharmacies for the routing of prescriptions.

In 2008, SureScripts-RxHub expects to handle 100 million electronic prescription transactions and respond to more than 70 million requests from doctors for benefits information and medication histories, according to a news release.

The merger comes at a time when momentum for e-prescribing is increasing. Congress is considering whether to mandate that doctors who treat Medicare patients must use the technology, and other recent developments in Washington are helping to drive the trend.

“This merger represents a collaboration between industries that are equally committed to improving health care,” said Bruce Roberts, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the National Community Pharmacists Association, in a statement. “The combined strengths of the two organizations will enable the delivery of a single suite of services that will dramatically improve the safety, efficiency and quality of one of the largest segments in health care.”

The merger will streamline development of technical interfaces with e-prescribing software and electronic health record systems, officials of the new organization said. Software vendors can now use a single process for testing their interfaces and becoming certified as compatible with the e-prescribing network.

Each organization will retain half ownership of the private network. No cash changed hands in the merger, according to the news release. The CEOs of the two former organizations are jointly managing the new company while the board of directors undertakes a search and selection process for a new CEO.

SureScripts-RxHub will have more than 75 employees and will maintain offices in St. Paul, Minn., and Alexandria, Va.

About the Author

Nancy Ferris is senior editor of Government Health IT.

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