Use Of Electronic Prescribing Could Save Medicare $29B Over 10 Years

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Electronic Prescribing

Use of electronic prescribing could save Medicare as much as $29billion over the next 10 years and prevent almost two millionmedication errors, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, CQ HealthBeat reports (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 7/12).

The report, prepared by Gorman Health Group,recommends that Congress require physicians who participate in Medicareto use e-prescribing and that the program offer bonuses to physiciansvalued at $7 billion over 10 years to help them purchase and maintainthe computer hardware and software required for the practice (Young, The Hill,7/12). According to the report, implementation of those and otherrecommendations could expand use of e-prescribing to cover almost 80%of prescriptions by 2017.

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PCMA on Wednesday also released asurvey of 407 physicians that found only one in 10 said they usee-prescribing on a regular basis. According to the survey, conducted byAyers, McHenry & Associates,two-thirds of respondents said use of e-prescribing is not a priority,in large part because of financial and administrative concerns (CQ HealthBeat, 7/12).

PCMAPresident Mark Merritt said that the implementation of therecommendations in the report could help finance a proposal to preventa scheduled 10% reduction in Medicare physician reimbursements nextyear. House Democrats have said that they might seek to attach such aproposal, which would cost $30 billion over two years, to legislationto reauthorize SCHIP (Serafini, CongressDaily, 7/12).

Concerns

In response to the recommendations, American Medical Associationboard member Joseph Heyman said that, although physicians "are eager toadopt new technologies that have the potential to increase patientsafety and quality of care ... hitting doctors with an unfundede-prescribing mandate at the same time the government plans to cutMedicare physicians payments 10% next year is untenable" (CQ HealthBeat, 7/12). He added that the Congressional Budget Office has "not identified any savings to the Medicare program from e-prescribing" (The Hill, 7/12).

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