Poor physician penmanship is the butt of many jokes, but illegible prescriptions are no laughing matter. A widely publicized study done by the Institute of Medicine in Washington, D.C., in 1999 concluded that medication errors (many due to poorly scrawled doctors' orders) cause 7,000 deaths annually in the United States at a cost of US$7 billion. To improve accuracy and speed, Giant Food and Pharmacy is providing 35,000 doctors in the mid-Atlantic region with secure access to patient information and the ability to transmit prescriptions to any of the Landover, Md.-based grocery chain's 154 pharmacies--all via a desktop PC, handheld or cell phone.
The OnCallData system used by Giant handles insurance verification and drug dispensing. The system also lets pharmacists communicate with doctors to request refills or verify prescriptions.
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