By Kim Dixon
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chain drug stores including Walgreens
The nation's three biggest pharmacy benefit managers, Medco, Express Scripts
That is just a fraction of the 4.4 billion retail and mail order prescriptions written in 2007 in the United States. But backers say it is a step forward.
"In order to get widespread adoption, we have to get the systems in place that work well," said Rick Ratliff, who will be a co-manager of the combined entity to be known as SureScripts-RxHub.
Retail chains like Walgreens and Rite Aid Corp.
Just 4 percent of physicians have fully adopted computerized health records, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June.
Physicians in the United States have been slow to adopt electronic prescribing tools, in part because of the upfront investment required.
The combined operation will most immediately help the small specialty software vendors which sell systems to doctors, according to the group.
Legislation with broad Democratic and Republican backing is moving through Congress that would boost financial incentives for doctors participating in the Medicare health insurance program to use e-prescribing technologies.
That could provide another catalyst for adoption.
(Editing by Dave Zimmerman)