Beginning in 2009, and during the four years that follow, Medicare will provide incentive payments to eligible professionals who are successful electronic prescribers as defined by the Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA). Eligible professionals will receive 2% incentive payments in 2009 and 2010; 1% incentive payments in 2011 and 2012; and a 0.5% incentive payment in 2013.
This incentive plan underlines the growing importance that is being placed on electronic prescribing by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). It also offers an additional return on a practice's investment in e-prescribing beyond the significant benefits this technology can provide. These benefits include:
*Creating a safer, more secure and accurate prescribing process for patients,
*Enabling more cost-effective prescribing decisions given access to formulary and pharmacy benefit eligibility information at the time of prescribing
*Improving practice efficiency through the ability to manage prescription refill requests electronically. This can significantly reduce the number of phone calls and faxes associated with this process, leaving more time for patient care or other reimbursable activity.
To help our members take advantage of these incentives, and to understand their readiness to e-prescribe, AOA is collaborating with other leading medical societies to provide free E-Prescribing Readiness Assessments through a special program Web site: www.GetRxConnected.org/AOA.
By visiting www.GetRxConnected.org/AOA you will find:
*Information on the business case and social case for e-prescribing.
*Tools to help you select a prescribing system, including details on programs that can help you acquire this technology at a reduced rate or for free.
*A free, personalized report that shows the e-prescribing services your existing practice software may be certified for, plus a tool you can use to request connectivity for these services by your technology vendor.
This is especially important for practices that use EMR (Electronic Medical Record) systems that may not yet provide all of their customers with access to the e-prescribing functionality required to be eligible for the Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act incentive payment.
*An estimate of the value of the time your practice spends annually managing prescription renewal requests by phone/fax time better spent on patient care, or other reimbursable activity.
*A listing of pharmacies in your area that can exchange prescription information with your practice electronically.
It is important for members to understand the readiness of their practice to e-prescribe and steps needed to obtain access to full e-prescribing functionality in order to be eligible for the Medicare incentive program as soon as possible to maximize incentive payments.
Implications for current users of prescribing technology:
Prescribers that use applications to prepare and send prescriptions to e-prescribing capable pharmacies by computer generated fax should be aware that these prescriptions are not eligible for the Medicare incentive payments.
Prescriptions must be able to be transmitted to the computer at the pharmacy if that pharmacy is e-prescribing enabled. More than 75% of the nation's pharmacies process prescriptions electronically. Further, prescribers must be using technology that enables access to formulary, pharmacy benefits eligibility and medication history information at the time of prescribing.
Additionally, as of January 1, 2012, CMS will no longer permit part D prescriptions to be sent to pharmacies by computer generated fax. Systems must be able to send prescriptions directly to the pharmacy computer. If not the prescription must be printed and handed to the patient or manually faxed.
Prescribers should also be aware that electronic prescriptions are excluded from the October 1, 2008 CMS regulatory change that requires all written Medicaid prescriptions to be on a tamper resistant blank.
For current EMR users or for those looking to acquire new e-prescribing technology, taking a few minutes and visiting www.GetRxConnected.org/AOA will be time well spent.