Healthcare providers participating in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts physician incentive programs will be required to electronically prescribe medication beginning Jan. 1, 2011, according to a news release.
The new e-prescribing mandate will take effect a year ahead of the CMS deadline for doctors to adopt the technology or face financial penalties such as lower reimbursement payments. Under the Blues requirement, doctors can receive financial assistance to help cover the costs of their e-prescribing devices and training during the first year of implementation, according to Katie Fryman, a Blues spokeswoman.
Physicians can adopt either a stand-alone e-prescribing system or use e-prescribing as part of a larger electronic medical records system, but either technology would need to meet the payers standards in order for the provider to qualify for implementation assistance and continued participation in the Blues physician incentive program, Fryman said. Currently 99% of primary-care doctors in the HMO Blue network and 78% of specialists participate in the incentive program, according to the news release.
Our incentive programs are designed to reward doctors for taking steps to improve the quality of care for patients, and e-prescribing has certainly proven to increase quality of care, said the Massachusetts Blues Chief Physician Executive John Fallon. According to a 2007 Dana-Farber Cancer Institute study, use of e-prescribing technology last year prevented 724 potential adverse drug events by identifying patients with drug allergies and drug-on-drug interaction risks. The Blues estimates e-prescribing saved members approximately $800,000 in 2006 by identifying less costly prescription alternatives. -- by Shawn Rhea
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