Supporters Recommend E-Prescribing Requirement In Medicare

Armen Hareyan's picture

E-Prescribing In Medicare

Use of electronic prescribing in Medicare could prevent as many as 1.9million medication errors and save the program as much as $29 billonover the next 10 years, Mark Merritt, CEO of Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, said on Wednesday, CQ HealthBeatreports. According to supporters, e-prescribing could help preventmedication errors related to illegible prescriptions, overuse andadverse reactions. Merritt said that Congress this fall would considerlegislation to require physicians who participate in Medicare to usee-prescribing.


A study published on Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicinefound that deaths from adverse medication reactions have almost tripledsince 1998, and the results could help "fuel efforts on Capitol Hill"to include such a requirement in legislation to prevent a 10% reductionin Medicare physician reimbursements scheduled for next year, accordingto CQ HealthBeat.

William Vaughan, an analyst for Consumers Union,said that the savings from such a requirement could finance the cost ofthe legislation. He added, "If doctors are going to get billions ofdollars of updates, some of that should be conditioned on moving toe-prescribing by a [certain] date, and, if you don't do that, you don'tget as much of an update."

However, acting CMSAdministrator Kerry Weems, who supports e-prescribing, said, "I'm notso sure a requirement could help" reduce adverse medication reactions,adding, "I'm not yet to the point where we're going to use the paymentsystem to coerce it."

American Medical AssociationChair Edward Langston said, "Physicians are eager to adopt newtechnologies that have the potential to increase patient safety andquality of care, but hitting doctors with an unfunded e-prescribingmandate at the same time the government plans to cut Medicare physicianpayments 10% next year is untenable" (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 9/12).

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