News Release

<< Back
Printer Friendly Version View printer-friendly version
Tufts Health Plan and Zix Corporation Announce Alliance to Provide Wireless Prescribing to Massachusetts Physicians
Replacing pen and paper improves prescribing safety and reduces medical costs

WALTHAM, Mass. & DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 23, 2003-- Two of the nation's leading organizations -Tufts Health Plan and Zix Corporation (Nasdaq: ZIXI) - today announce a joint effort to offer a comprehensive e-prescribing program that will dramatically improve patient safety and reduce medical costs, as demonstrated by a pilot study. The innovative initiative, the first time that e-prescribing software will be available on a BlackBerry device with the T-Mobile Nationwide High Speed Network, will allow physicians real-time access to patients' prescriptions. The program will first be available to over 18,000 physicians in the Tufts Health Plan network, and then nationwide shortly thereafter.

The program will initially combine BlackBerry Wireless Handhelds(TM) from Research In Motion (RIM) with T-Mobile's wireless service and ZixCorp's PocketScript's Electronic Prescription program, which enables physicians to create both new and refill medication prescriptions electronically instead of through the traditional pen and paper method. The PocketScript e-prescribing system is also available via an Internet browser which can be integrated with an organization's practice management systems or electronic medical records. Moving the process from paper to an electronic platform can greatly increase the safety and efficiency of the process. A 1999 Institute of Medicine report cited medical errors - including those related to improperly prescribed medications - as the 8th leading cause of death for Americans, more than motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer or AIDS.

"Creating an electronic connection in the prescribing process has the potential to dramatically improve patient care and reduce prescribing errors," says Deborah Whitehead, assistant vice president for pharmacy at Tufts Health Plan. To launch the initiative, Tufts Health Plan will initially make BlackBerry devices available to 5,000 physicians in its network who collectively write 75 percent of the prescriptions for Tufts Health Plan members. Tufts Health Plan began evaluating e-prescribing solutions with PocketScript to its network of physicians in 2001. In a pilot study of the first physicians to use the technology, the plan found that:

  • Rejected scripts due to illegibility and interaction with other prescribed drugs decreased, as evidenced by a 30 percent reduction in calls between physicians and pharmacists;
  • 35 percent of prescribers reported patient care benefits due to the ability to check drug interactions and prescription accuracy;
  • 50 percent of study respondents reported changing patient drug therapies to Tufts Health Plan preferred drugs which, if the technology were widely deployed, could mitigate rising pharmaceutical costs by 2 percent or more;
  • An improvement in the efficiency of prescribing, with participating medical group practices reporting a decrease in total time spent on prescriptions of up to 2 hours per prescriber and affiliated staff; and
  • A savings of nearly 1 hour per pharmacist in a typical day.

"The combination of e-mail, cell phone, organizer and electronic prescription system in one secure BlackBerry handheld is an innovative and spectacular improvement in e-prescribing technology. This solution can increase safety, save patients time and money, and make life easier for physicians," continues Whitehead.

More information on the Tuft Health Plan e-prescribing study can be found at

"This initiative will have a significant impact on the future of prescribing in Massachusetts and the United States," said Steve Burns, ZixCorp vice president and general manager for the PocketScript division. "The physician now has immediate access to the necessary information to more effectively and efficiently prescribe, such as dosing, formulary preference and pharmacy location - not to mention the most concerning, drug interactions and reduction in the errors associated with recognition of handwritten prescriptions. So much attention is now being paid to the potential e-prescribing has to offer. We applaud Tufts Health Plan for their leadership in this very important initiative."

"My biggest concern about adopting an e-prescribing solution was usability. Our experience in testing this system has been extremely positive. It provides me the necessary patient, reference and formulary information in an easy to use manner. It has significantly reduced the amount of time my staff spends on prescription related matters," Joseph Hazen, MD, The Family Medical Group. "It's a tremendous benefit to me to be able to access my patient's prescription records from home or on the go. I can prescribe with safety and confidence. This initiative will make getting a prescription safer for the citizens of Massachusetts."

About Tufts Health Plan

Tufts Health Plan is one of the country's largest health plans and has been cited for its outstanding quality from a variety of third parties. The plan's HMO has been named the "Highest in Overall Member Satisfaction Among Health Plans in Boston" by J.D. Power and Associates since 1996(1). Tufts Associated Health Maintenance Organization, Inc., Total Health Plan, Inc. and Secure Horizons, Tufts Health Plan for Seniors, have been given Excellent NCQA status. Most recently, the plan was named one of the top 15 accredited health plans in the nation in the HEDIS® Effectiveness of Care Measure in the 2002 State of Health Care Quality Report(2). (

About ZixCorp

Zix Corporation (ZixCorp(TM)) is a global provider of e-messaging protection and transaction services. ZixCorp offers a range of solutions to protect organizations from viruses, spam, and electronic attack, as well as enabling secure electronic communications, such as e-mail encryption and e-prescribing. ZixCorp helps organizations of any size to streamline operations, mitigate risks, and leverage the efficiencies of e-messaging. For more information, visit

  • (1) J.D. Power and Associates 2002 Managed Care Satisfaction Study(SM). Study based on responses from 27,332 commercial health plan members in 16 of the top U.S. markets. Tufts Health Plan HMO was the highest ranked health plan in the Boston market, which covers Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth and Suffolk counties in the state of Massachusetts.
  • (2) HEDIS is a registered trademark of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA)

Contact: Tufts Health Plan Catherine Grant, 781-466-9022 or ZixCorp Whitney Gilliam, 214-515-7338

Source: Tufts Health Plan