HHS Takes New Steps to Accelerate Adoption of Electronic Prescribing

Medicare Payments for Successful Electronic Prescribers, Reporting Quality Data are Important Steps Toward a Value-Driven Health Care System

Beginning in 2009, and during the next four years, Medicare will provide incentive payments to eligible professionals who are successful electronic prescribers. Eligible professionals will receive a 2 percent incentive payment in 2009 and 2010; a 1 percent incentive payment in 2011 and 2012; and a one half percent incentive payment in 2013. Beginning in 2012, eligible professionals who are not successful electronic prescribers will receive a reduction in payment. Eligible professionals may be exempted from the reduction in payment, on a case-by-case basis, if it is determined that compliance with requirement for being a successful prescriber would result in significant hardship.

Medicare is expected to save up to $156 million over the five-year course of the program in avoided adverse drug events. It’s been estimated that Medicare beneficiaries experience as many as 530,000 adverse drug events every year, contributed to in part by negative interactions with other drugs, or a prescriber’s lack of information about a patient’s medication history.

This incentive payment for successful electronic prescribers is a significant step forward for the encouragement of the use and adoption of e-prescribing throughout the health care system. Advancements in the adoption of e-prescribing will help further the transformation of the current health care system into a system based on value.

Additional information can be found here: (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services news release ( http://www.hhs.gov/news/facts/eprescribing.html ), Freking, AP/Washington Post , 7/21 [registration required]; Reinberg, HealthDay , 7/21; Reichard, CQ HealthBeat , 7/21 [subscription required]).

(SOURCE: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services news release, www.hhs.gov , July 21, 2008; and Advisory Board Daily Briefing , www.advisory.com , July 22, 2008)