A group of IT companies involved in providing healthcare solutions have started up Café Rx, an open alliance devoted to championing the adoption of electronic prescribing across the US.

The organisation, announced last week at the National Council for Prescription Drug Programmes’ (NCPDP) Educational Forum in San Francisco, promises to support and lobby for electronic prescribing, as well as providing information, examples, strategies and best practice models through its website, http://www.caferx.org/. The new alliance is additionally planning to start a programme of education for clinicians and support staff about the benefits of the system.

Donald Gravlin, vice president of Capgemini Health, one of the founder companies, said: “Cafe Rx will promote and support real-time connectivity between physicians, payors, pharmacy benefit managers and retail pharmacies through vendor-neutral platforms and solutions. We view e-prescribing as an essential step in the migration to the comprehensive automation of clinical processes."

Members of Café Rx are bound to ensure neutrality (that is, to “promote best model practices without endorsing proprietary processes or specific vendor solutions”), promote patient choice, support all legislation that will facilitate e-prescribing and not champion any so-called ‘commercial messaging’ that would “interrupt the prescription process or conflict with administrative and clinical best practices."

The founder members are Capgemini, Cisco Systems, HP, NDCHealth, RxHub and SureScripts, as well as the NCPDP itself. Although the alliance is solely concerned with advancing the interests of those involved in rolling out electronic prescribing in the US, the organisation is open to all who are willing to abide by the rules.

Café Rx estimates that the vast majority of the 3.7 billion prescriptions issued last year in the US were handwritten, and that around 150 million phonecalls were made from pharmacists to doctors to clarify dosing and other issues.

Janet Marchibroda, CEO of eHealth Initiative, a non-profit organisation that also lobbies for greater use of IT in healthcare, said: “We applaud the leadership of Café Rx and its efforts to move the industry forward."