E-prescribing adoption is not only rewarded, but failing to do so is beginning to be penalized. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), physicians who don’t adopt e-prescribing when eligible will face penalties starting in 2012. Eligible physicians are subject to a 1.5 percent Medicare payment reduction based on their 2013 Medicare Part B fee schedule amounts during the year. The penalty is 2 percent in 2014.
E-prescribing allows you to monitor patient adherence to medication more effectively, increasing quality of care. Many of the physicians we work with tell us that one big advantage of e-prescribing is that it increases their patients’ compliance to medication usage by simplifying the prescription-filling process. Paper prescriptions may result in a breach in the patient care continuum because doctors have no accurate means of monitoring if patients have filled the prescription after the medication has been prescribed by paper. With e-prescribing, however, a refill request goes directly from the doctor’s office to the pharmacy electronically and the practice gets an electronic confirmation that the pharmacy received the request and filled the prescription.
E-prescribing saves you time and money. E-prescribing streamlines the prescription process in many ways. Firstly, the prescription request is sent to the pharmacy with the click of a button. Secondly, pharmacists can see the e-prescription information on their computer, drastically reducing their chances of misreading the prescription. The need to call the doctor’s office for clarifications is also greatly reduced, if not eliminated. Currently, 30 percent of all prescriptions require pharmacy call backs, according to the National Committee on Vital Health and Statistics (NCVHS). Considering that 3 billion prescriptions are filled in the U.S. every year, 900 million calls result from pharmacies clarifying information – which makes the time an average practice spends on the phone clarifying prescriptions staggering. Unlike a paper prescription, an e-prescription is clearly presented and comes with detailed information about the medication, including dosage, side effects and medications with which the prescription may counteract. This ultimately helps doctors, pharmacists and patients prevent mistakes and lead to better patient care.
Lost paper prescriptions become a thing of the past. Paper prescriptions can be misplaced or lost which, in a best-case scenario, is inconvenient for both the patient and the doctor. An even worse outcome of a lost prescription might include patients not refilling the prescription at all, possibly resulting in adverse health consequences. E-prescriptions also reduce the possibility of fraudulent behavior or illegally filled prescriptions, because prescription requests can be sent directly to and be viewed exclusively by the pharmacist.
Patients want the convenience that e-prescriptions bring. As a society, we are entering a phase of patient empowerment – fueled by access to information, improved care and convenience. A physician’s decision to e-prescribe demonstrates that the doctor is up to date on their medical methodologies for treating patients and is willing to make changes to benefit them. Physicians who e-prescribe enable patients to take full advantage of doctor-pharmacy technology, gain important insight into prescription information and select the location where patients want their prescription filled, so they can conveniently pick it up. These important capabilities benefit the patient and strengthen patients’ view of their physician’s technology practices.
Matthew J. Hawkins is the CEO of Vitera Healthcare Solutions, based in Tampa, Florida.