More Physicians Switching To Electronic Prescribing Technology

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The number of physicians in the U.S. who have adopted electronic prescribing technology may have doubled to more than 70,000 this year, up from 35,000 in December 2007, according to estimates by the e-prescription network management firm SureScripts-RxHub, the AP/Boston Globe reports.

The number of paperless prescriptions also has been increasing at a rate of 15% per month since August, compared with the 5% to 8% rate increase seen earlier in the year, the AP/Globe reports.

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Industry observers say the growing shift to e-prescriptions might be attributed to a new Medicare rule scheduled to take effect in January 2009 that will offer a 2% payment bonus to physicians who use e-prescribing. According to the AP/Globe, about 10% of U.S. physicians use e-prescribing but "the movement is gaining steam as Medicare warns that its bonus payments are for a short time only." Physicians who still use paper prescriptions after 2012 will face Medicare payment cuts.

Ted Epperly, an Idaho physician and president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said that the additional $1,000 to $1,500 that physicians could receive through the Medicare incentive might help alleviate the cost burden of adopting an e-prescribing program, which can cost $3,000 per physician.

A nationwide e-prescribing network also could generate as much as $156 million in savings over five years, according to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. E-prescribing also would help minimize the risk and alert pharmacists of potential adverse drug events, as well as reduce waiting time for patients, the AP/Globe reports (AP/Boston Globe, 12/15).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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