Medicare could avoid up to $156 million over five years in costs from adverse drug events by getting physicians to adopt electronic prescribing tools, HHS officials announced.
In a teleconference with reporters, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems announced several steps the agency is taking to implement a new incentives program mandated by the new Medicare law that went into effect last week.
Weems clarified that the Bush administration supported the e-prescribing measures in the new Medicare law, even though President Bush vetoed the bill because he didn't support Medicare Advantage cuts also contained in the legislation. The terms of the incentives program will be outlined in Medicares final rule on the 2009 physician-fee schedule this fall. In addition, physicians will start getting credit under the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative for e-prescribing, he said. Physicians can expect a 4% pay bump in 2009 by both adopting e-prescribing and participating in the PQRI, Weems said.
The CMS also plans to hold a conference this fall to address the issues associated with physicians adopting e-prescribing tools. Weems estimates it will cost $3,000 per prescriber to set up an e-prescribing system.
Family physicians support this initiative, which will hopefully reduce prescribing errors and improve patient safety, said James King, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, who joined HHS officials in the teleconference. However, barriers to establishing this technology remain, including state laws that prevent physicians from e-prescribing across state lines, King said.