The federal report released by the CMS noted that medication discrepancies can be common in care transitions. For instance, it cited one analysis showing discrepancies occurred in up to 75% of admissions to skilled-nursing facilities.
As things are now, sharing information about a patient's medications is mostly a paper-based process, which means it must be manually transferred into a post-acute provider's system.
"With a manual process, there is always the possibility of transcription error," said Landa Stricklin, director of clinical reimbursement at Life Care Centers of America, a nursing home chain.
The goal of the CMS' effort is to make providers more accountable for transferring important medication information such as dose and frequency, according to the agency. When a resident is discharged home, the second measure would track the transfer of medication information from a provider to the patient, family or caregiver.
The stakes are high when there isn't an accurate exchange of information about medications, according to Kristen Smith, an executive vice president at Post-Acute Medical, an operator of long-term acute-care facilities.
"The negative impact of poor medication information or lack thereof are a potential risk of illness, readmissions or death from medication administration errors," she said.
A study that appeared in a 2013 edition of the International Journal of Family Medicine found that 33% to 69% of medication-related hospital admissions in the U.S. are due to medication non-adherence, resulting in $100 billion per year in healthcare costs.
There is agreement in the medical community that more needs to be done to ensure that there is an accurate transfer of medication information, but there also seems to be near universal skepticism that the new measures would offer much help with that process.
The measures just track whether or not information about medication is being provided to the patient or provider at time of discharge. They don't address the accuracy of the information provided or the ability of the patient or family member to understand the information, Smith said.