Eligible physicians can expect some financial relief courtesy of the federal government simply by adding a jolt of modern technology to their practice.
Under a measure approved by the Senate, doctors who are paid by Medicare would become eligible for bonus payments just for filing prescriptions electronically rather than writing them out by hand. The e-prescribing requirement, which also covers a reporting initiative, is part of a broader Medicare bill that first cleared the House in June.
Electronic "prescribing is a fundamental step toward modernizing our healthcare system, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said in a written statement. It will save lives by reducing medical errors and save billions of dollars. Kerry authored much of the health information technology language in the bill, which was partly based on legislation he introduced late last year.
The bill allows for a stepped-down system of bonus payments, running from 2009 through 2013. At the outset, doctors would be eligible for a 2% bump in reimbursement dollars for e-prescribing, which would gradually decrease over time as the technology becomes more common and less expensive.
Conversely, physicians who dont e-prescribe would start to see a reduction in pay starting in 2012.
The Senate measure also requires the Government Accountability Office to study the effectiveness of e-prescribing, culminating in a comprehensive report by late 2012.
Successful health reform requires beginning with effective, widely available technologies, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) said in a written statement. Parts of Schwartzs E-MEDS legislation were included in the Senate bill as well. E-prescribing is a common sense, much needed solution to help eliminate preventable prescription errors and make medicine in America the safest it can be.
What do you think? Post a comment on this article and share your opinion with other readers. Submit your letter to Modern Physician Online at [email protected]. Please be sure to include your hometown and state, along with your organization and title.