Magazine article Drug Topics

Senate Looks to Boost E-Prescribing

Magazine article Drug Topics

Senate Looks to Boost E-Prescribing

Article excerpt

An increasingly diverse collation of groups is pushing hard to increase adoption of electronic prescriptions. The uncommon alliance of pharmacy organizations, pharmacy benefit managers, and consumer organizations is pushing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and federal lawmakers to take steps to increase the use of e-prescriptions.

Not surprisingly, lawmakers, at least, are taking notice. In December, John Kerry (D, Mass.) co-sponsored the Medicare Electronic Medication and Safety Protection (E-MEDS) Act of 2007 in the Senate and a similar bill was introduced in the House that would provide new incentives to push adoption of e-prescribing among prescribers.

The bill stops short of mandating e-prescribing and instead focuses on providing additional incentives for physicians to use the new technology. According to the bill, prescribers could receive a $2,000 bonus to cover startup costs after reaching a threshold number of e-prescriptions that would be determined by CMS. In addition, physicians would be in line to receive a 1% higher reimbursement for using e-prescriptions.

Pharmacists on the other hand seem ready, willing, and able to move forward with electronic prescriptions. According to Jason Kasiar, R.Ph., e-prescribing at Beck's Pharmacy in rural Eldorado, Ill., is especially easy for refill requests and simplifies his contact with physicians. "I usually have a response in 10 to 15 minutes-the electronic prescriptions go straight to the nurse," he explained. Of the 400 daily Rxs his pharmacy fills, he estimates close to 15 are electronic. "With time savings for myself and my techs, I have found the cost savings to outweigh the costs in the end," he added.

For now the focus is on getting prescribers on board. "We support any incentives the government can provide," said Kevin Nicholson, VP of pharmacy regulatory affairs at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. "E-prescribing has the potential to provide so many benefits. It streamlines the prescribing process, prevents transcription errors at the pharmacy level, and patients are more compliant," said Nicholson.

Other groups had been hoping the bill would move from providing incentives to mandating the use of e-prescriptions. …

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