E-prescribing is a method of prescribing medication that allows your physician to electronically send your prescriptions to your preferred pharmacist. Many believe that this cuts down on prescription error and confusion. E-prescriptions can also be saved to your medical file which makes them more readily available in subsequent visits.
There are benefits to e-prescribing for both physicians and patients alike. For physicians, e-prescribing gives instant access to FDA safety alerts regarding a particular drug, access to patient drug history and allergy information and more efficient use of time for the office staff. For patients, prescriptions are filled more quickly which will reduce wasted time at the pharmacy. Over 65% of the pharmacies in the United States are already set up to utilize the technology.
By the year 2012, all Medicare providers must be utilizing the e-prescription program as their sole means of providing drug prescriptions to patients. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, began offering incentives to eligible providers in 2009. As of this year, the incentive is 1% of a provider's total estimated allowed charges for covered professional services during the calendar year. In 2013, this incentive will drop to 0.5% in addition to penalties being assessed to providers who are not in compliance with the program. To allow providers time to purchase, learn and implement the software required for sending e-prescriptions, the CMA has established a sort of training program that providers must be in compliance with by June 30, 2011. Within this program, providers are still permitted to utilize paper or faxed prescriptions but must electronically submit at least 10 prescriptions. After June 30, 2011, providers are still permitted to utilize paper methods of prescribing medications but must submit a total of 15 electronic prescriptions by December 31, 2011.
If your provider utilizes e-patient software, you may find that they are either already in compliance or will be very shortly. It has been found that offices that are no longer heavily relying on paper have had an easier time training their staff to use the software. Those offices that are paper oriented may convert more slowly mostly due to habit.