May 8, 2012
It’s undeniable. A growing number of physicians, medical centers and hospitals have made the move from writing pen-and-paper prescriptions to electronic prescribing. Equally undeniable are the holdouts: doctors and medical centers still reluctant about e-prescribing.
What will it take to convince the skeptics that this new way of sending prescriptions to pharmacies is the right move? The best argument should include the financial, operational and accuracy improvements e-prescribing will bring to medical providers.
According to Medscape Today, physicians who don’t send their prescriptions electronically will be penalized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In February 2012, the CMS began sending letters to all physicians not making the transition to electronic prescribing by November 8, 2011, notifying the recipients that in 2012 their reimbursement for Medicare allowable would reduce by 1 percent. Physicians may apply for a hardship exemption by arguing that the provider in located in an area that does not have access to high speed internet service. However, physicians avoiding electronic prescribing will be significantly penalized for not e-prescribing.
The American Medical Association recently reported in a study by the Medical Group Management Association that physicians could save as much as $15,700 each year by e-prescribing.
According to two important studies, physicians and medical centers relying on electronic transmission of prescriptions can dramatically reduce errors.
For instance, the peer-reviewed medical journal PLoS Medicine recently reported hospitals that e-prescribed lowered error rates from 58 percent to 66 percent. That same study reported serious errors dropped by 44 percent.
A 2010 study by Weill Cornell Medical College provides additional proof to convince medical providers of the benefits of e-prescribing. According to the study, health care providers who relied on electronic systems to write prescriptions were seven times less likely to make errors than were those handwriting prescriptions.
These are compelling arguments for e-prescribing. How can medical providers argue against a system that saves money and assists to provide better care for patients?
The good news is that the message seems to be working.
According to a story in Information Week, Walgreens announced that it would electronically deliver immunization records to physicians.
CMIO also reported an increased number of medical providers participating in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Physician Quality Reporting System and its Electronic Prescribing Incentive Program.
According to the CMIO story, both programs paid $662 million in incentives to medical providers in 2010. That is a jump of 72 percent from 2009. The CMS paid out $270 million in 2010 for the electronic prescribing incentive program, a jump of 73 percent compared with 2009.