Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced an incentive plan for physicians and other prescription writers that should accelerate the adoption of e-prescribing, a technique believed to reduce medication errors and costs.
Providers will receive a 2% bonus on total Medicare charges during 2009 for using qualified e-prescribing systems. The incentive would be on top of the 2% bump received by physicians who provide data using the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI), and the 1.1% fee schedule increase mandated by the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008.
To capture the bonus, providers must use e-prescribing systems that:
-Communicate electronically with the patient’s pharmacy,
-Remind physicians about cheaper alternatives (if available),
-Provide Medicare formulary information, and
-Alert prescribers about allergies, improper dosing and drug interactions.
“E-prescribing can greatly reduce the number of medication errors that jeopardize the health and safety of Medicare patients and waste precious healthcare dollars treating conditions that never should have happened,” said CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems.
The literature appears to back-up Mr. Weems’ claim. Scientists recently reviewed published studies regarding the effectiveness of computerized physician order entry systems. They found that 23 of the 25 studies of the matter concluded that the systems reduce medication errors or adverse events. In these studies, the relative risk of a medication error was reduced by an amount ranging between 13% and 99%.