Effort Aims to Help Physicians Meet Medicare Deadline While Increasing Prescription Accuracy and Medication Safety
Reducing the $8 Billion Phone Bill Caused by Paper and Fax Prescriptions
WASHINGTON , D.C. - March 4, 2008 - At an event on Capitol Hill, today, five of the nation's leading physician groups announced the launch of a new program designed to help more physicians begin sending prescriptions to pharmacies electronically. Electronic prescribing, or "e-prescribing," replaces the need for handwritten, printed or faxed prescriptions and is seen as a more accurate and efficient means of prescribing medications. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Medical Group
Management Association (MGMA) are launching an online portal - www.GetRxConnected.com - where physicians can follow a step-by-step process designed to help them transition from paper-based prescribing to e-prescribing.
In an effort to prevent medication errors, the Institute of Medicine has called for all prescriptions in the U.S. to be written and received electronically by 2010.
Created under the auspices of The Center for Improving Medication Management, GetRxConnected.com contains urgent information and guidance for an estimated 150,000 prescribers located throughout the U.S. that are currently using electronic medical record (EMR) and other clinical software to fax prescriptions to pharmacies. Computergenerated faxing of prescriptions not only prevents physicians from achieving the gains in practice efficiency and patient safety associated with e-prescribing, but starting on January 1, 2009, all computer-generated prescriptions covered by the Medicare Part D program must be transmitted electronically and not via fax. (Important Note to Physicians Using EMRs: Most EMR users believe that they already send prescriptions to pharmacies electronically - i.e. they are unaware that it is far more likely that their EMR is generating faxes that arrive on paper at the pharmacy's fax machine. These computer-generated, faxed prescriptions will not be in compliance with the new Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) Part D regulations.)
Through GetRxConnected.com, physicians and their staffs can find out if their existing software is compliant with the new Medicare regulations and can receive a free, personalized report to help them request an electronic connection to pharmacies through their vendor. The Get Connected program is equally intended for physicians and practice management professionals who have yet to invest in EMR or other clinical software. The portal provides guidance on how to evaluate and acquire technology that supports e-prescribing. GetRxConnected.com also helps physicians and practice management professionals to assess the financial impact of e-prescribing using an interactive feature that allows them to calculate an estimate of the time and resources their practice is currently dedicating to the manual processing of prescriptions.
"Of the nearly 40 percent of AAFP members with fully adopted EHRs, less than 30 percent are sending prescriptions electronically today," said Steven E. Waldren, MD MS, director of the AAFP's Center for Health-IT. "With a targeted effort, many of those users could quickly capitalize on the quality and efficiency value of e-prescribing."
"E-prescribing is a tool that can help pediatricians enter the electronic age for clinical care," said AAP member Joseph H. Schneider, MD, MBA, FAAP. "It makes sense because it improves patient safety, it's relatively easy to use and it's low-cost. Participation in the 'Get Connected' program is one of the many ways that the Academy is working to support our members. Ideally, e-prescribing could also be a stepping stone in the journey that brings electronic health record use by pediatricians to the levels seen in other specialties."
"Moving physicians to electronic prescribing is an essential step toward improving the quality of patient care," said Jack Lewin, MD, CEO of the American College of Cardiology. "E-prescribing reduces errors and adverse drug interaction events, improves efficiency and patient satisfaction, and enables critical communication between the prescriber and the pharmacy. E-prescribing can also be an important first step in physician adoption of health information technology."
"Electronic prescribing can improve patient care and practice efficiency," said Ralph W. Hale, MD, executive vice president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "ACOG wants to do what we can to assist our
members in adopting this technology. The Get Connected program is an important part of that effort."
"Electronic prescribing - with a direct transfer of the prescription from the physician's office into the pharmacy's computer - increases practice efficiency and enhances patient safety. We're urging all our members to 'Get Connected' as quickly as possible," said MGMA President and CEO, William F. Jessee, MD, FACMPE. "The Center for Improving Medication Management is very excited to launch the Get Connected program in collaboration with these esteemed organizations," said Kate Berry, executive director of The Center and senior vice president of business development for SureScripts®, operator of the Pharmacy Health Information Exchange™. "We are confident that GetRxConnected.com will serve to inform and guide the transition of thousands of physicians from paper-based to paperless prescribing.
National Momentum Builds for E-Prescribing
At the same event on Capitol Hill today, the nation's community pharmacies announced that Massachusetts ranks first in the nation when it comes to transmitting prescriptions electronically versus by fax or prescription pad. Based on the results of a nationwide audit of electronic prescriptions transmitted in 2007 across all 50 states and Washington, D.C., it was determined that prescribers in the Bay State sent over 4 million prescriptions electronically, representing more than 13 percent of all eligible prescriptions in the state, more than six times the national average. Massachusetts was recognized for this accomplishment, along with nine other states, as part of the third annual Safe-Rx Awards. (For more on the Safe-RxAwards and to see a ranking all states based on e-prescribing activity, go to www.surescripts.com/Safe-Rx.)
The event featured former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Senator John Kerry. In December of 2007, Senator Kerry joined with Speaker Gingrich and a number of Senate colleagues to announce the introduction of the Medicare Electronic Medication and Safety Protection Act ("E-MEDS"). The E-MEDS bill proposes to offer physicians reimbursements for investing in e-prescribing technology as well as incentive payments each time a prescription is transmitted electronically and the claim is submitted through Medicare.
In early December 2007, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the Drug Enforcement Agency's policy prohibiting e-prescribing of controlled substances. This policy requires physician practices to maintain two separate processes for prescribing: one that is paper-based for controlled substances; and another that is electronically based for all other medications. In the view of many physicians and pharmacists, the administrative burden of maintaining two separate processes is a significant barrier to adoption and use of e-prescribing. The prospect of the DEA allowing controlled substances to be e-prescribed represents another potential boost to e-prescribing adoption and use.
E-Prescribing: An Opportunity to Save Time, Dollars and Lives
There remains a sizable opportunity to increase the adoption and use of e-prescribing nationwide. Although SureScripts estimates that more than 100 million prescription transactions will be routed electronically in 2008, that
number represents only 7 percent of eligible prescriptions (see The National Progress Report on E-Prescribing at www.surescripts.com/report). The realization of e-prescribing's full potential represents an unprecedented opportunity to improve patient safety and the efficiency of the prescribing process. According to the Center for Information Technology Leadership, use of electronic prescribing with an electronic connection to pharmacy and advanced decision-support capabilities could help prevent 130,000 life-threatening medication errors annually. By eliminating paper from the prescribing process, and particularly by automating prescription renewals, e-prescribing has been proven to offer significant time savings by reducing prescription-related phone calls and faxes, allowing prescribers
and their staffs more time to care for their patients. A study by MGMA's Group Practice Research Network estimated that administrative complexity related to prescriptions costs practices $15,700 a year for each full-time physician -
that does not even take into consideration the time and cost of managing faxes. Multiplying that figure by an estimated 563,000 office-based physicians currently practicing and prescribing medications in the United States reveals an opportunity for e-prescribing to significantly reduce the up to estimated $8.8 billion worth of physician and staff time spent on the phone clarifying prescription information.
About the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)
Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents more than 93,000 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.
Nearly one in four of all office visits are made to general and family physicians. That is 215 million office visits each year - nearly 48 million more than to the next medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide the majority of care
for America's underserved and rural populations. In the increasingly fragmented world of health care where many medical specialties limit their practice to a particular organ, disease, age or sex, family physicians are dedicated to
treating the whole person across the full spectrum of ages. Family medicine's cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care. To learn more about the American Academy of Family Physicians and about the specialty of family medicine, please visit http://www.aafp.org
About the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.
About the American College of Cardiology (ACC)
The American College of Cardiology is leading the way to optimal cardiovascular care and disease prevention. The College is a 34,000-member nonprofit medical society and bestows the credential Fellow of the American College of Cardiology upon physicians who meet its stringent qualifications. The College is a leader in the formulation of health policy, standards and guidelines, and is a staunch supporter of cardiovascular research. The ACC provides professional education and operates national registries for the measurement and improvement of quality care.
About the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
ACOG is a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization founded in 1951. With more than 52,000 members, ACOG is the nation's leading professional association of physicians who specialize in providing health care for
women. ACOG serves as a strong advocate for quality health care for women and maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, who include nearly 90 percent of the nation's boardcertified
About the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)
MGMA, founded in 1926, is the nation's principal voice for medical group practice. MGMA's more than 21,500 members manage and lead 13,500 organizations, in which more than 270,000 physicians practice. MGMA's core purpose is to improve the effectiveness of medical group practices and the knowledge and skills of the individuals who manage and lead them. MGMA headquarters are in Englewood, Colo. Visit mgma.com for more information.
The Center for Improving Medication Management
The Center for Improving Medication Management serves as an industry resource by gathering and disseminating best and worst practices related to technology deployment for electronic medication management and for leveraging that technology and connectivity to test innovative approaches to improve patient adherence with prescribed medications. The Center was founded by American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), Humana Inc., Intel Corporation, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) and SureScripts. More information about The Center is available at http://www.theCIMM.org.
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