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Move Aims to Help More AGA Members to Start E-Prescribing Before New Medicare Incentives Take Effect on January 1, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Dec. 10, 2008 - The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) today announced their participation in "Get Connected," a program designed to help more of the nation's prescribers begin sending prescriptions to pharmacies electronically. Now backed by 13 of the nation's leading medical associations, Get Connected is intended to help thousands of prescribers take advantage of new Medicare incentives aimed at increasing the adoption and use of e-prescribing.

Beginning in 2009, and during the next four years, Medicare will provide incentive payments to eligible professionals who are successful electronic prescribers, as defined by the Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA). Eligible professionals will receive a 2 percent incentive payment in 2009 and 2010; a 1 percent incentive payment in 2011 and 2012; and a 0.5 percent incentive payment in 2013. Beginning January 1, 2009, those physicians using a qualified system to send electronic prescriptions (at the rate defined by MIPPA) will receive higher levels of reimbursement under Medicare through 2013. A qualified system must be able to do all of the following:

Generate a medication list:

Select medications, transmit prescriptions electronically using the applicable standards, and warn the prescriber of possible undesirable or unsafe situations.

Provide information on lower-cost, therapeutically-appropriate alternatives.

Provide information on formulary or tiered formulary medications, patient eligibility, and authorization requirements received electronically from the patient's drug plan.

Go to /get-connected.aspx to view a list of systems that have been certified and the functionality for which they have been certified. Prescribers should check with their vendor to confirm that their system is qualified under MIPPA guidelines and to request activation of services that deliver the required functionality.

The focal point of the Get Connected program is an online portal - - where prescribers can follow a step-by-step process designed to help them transition from paper-based prescribing to e-prescribing.

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. Because it is paperless, e-prescribing is also regarded as a secure\ alternative to paper prescriptions which can be stolen, copied, forged and otherwise manipulated.

"AGA Institute is committed to helping its members transition from paper to electronic medical records. In addition, we recognized the importance of helping members become eligible for any and all incentive funds provided by CMS," said John I Allen, MBA, MD, AGAF, chair, AGA Institute Clinical Practice and Quality Management Committee. "The 2 percent incentive available for e-prescribing could translate into approximately $1,000 per physician whose practice sees 25 percent to 30 percent Medicare patients. E-prescribing will soon be mandatory, as evidenced by federal directives and stringent mandates originating in several states. Cooperation among pharmacies has enabled more than 70 percent to accept electronic prescriptions and has cleared the way for this initiative to take off.

"It is now our turn as providers to meet requirements," said Dr. Allen. "We urge AGA members to take advantage of this AGA Institute-sponsored program to help transition your practice to e-prescribing."

"The Academy is committed to helping its members adopt e-prescribing to improve efficiency, reduce errors and provide clinicians with easier access to a patient's full medication history," said H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr, MD executive vice president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

In addition to the AGA and AAO, Get Connected is supported by the:

American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)
American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)
American College of Cardiology (ACC)
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
American Optometric Association (AOA)
American Osteopathic Association (AOA)
American Urological Association (AUA)
Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)
Texas Medical Association (TMA)

If you are a member of a state medical society or national provider organization and would like to get more information about how your membership can Get Connected for e-prescribing, please contact Kate Berry, executive director at The Center for Improving Medication Management at

Created under the auspices of The Center for Improving Medication Management (founded by the AAFP, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Humana Inc., Intel Corporation, the MGMA and Surescripts-RxHub), contains urgent information and guidance for an estimated 150,000 prescribers located throughout the United States that are currently using electronic medical record (EMR) and other clinical software to fax prescriptions to pharmacies. Computer-generated faxing of prescriptions prevents prescribers from achieving the gains in practice efficiency and patient safety associated with e-prescribing. (Important Note to Prescribers 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. Prescribers using EMR systems that can only send computer-generated, faxed prescriptions will not be eligible for the Medicare incentives for e-prescribing.)

How to Get Connected :
Following the completion of a brief self-assessment on, prescribers and their staffs can find out if the software brand and version they are using is certified to generate e-prescriptions compliant with the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) SCRIPT standard, as required by the new Medicare incentives. The SCRIPT standard facilitates the electronic transmission of prescriptions and prescription-related information.

The Get Connected program is equally intended for prescribers 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. also helps prescribers and practice management professionals 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.

About the AGA Institute:
The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) is dedicated to the mission of advancing the science and practice of gastroenterology. Founded in 1897, the AGA is one of the oldest medical-specialty societies in the U.S. Comprised of two non-profit organizations - the AGA and the AGA Institute - our more than 17,000 members include physicians and scientists who research, diagnose and treat disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and liver. For more information, please visit

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology:
AAO is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons-Eye M.D.s-with more than 27,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three "O's" - opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit the Academy's Web site at

About The Center for Improving Medication Management :
The Center for Improving Medication Management is committed to understanding how technology improves the way medications are prescribed and used safely and effectively by millions of patients every day. The Center was founded by the American Academy of Family Physicians, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Humana Inc., Intel Corporation, the Medical Group Management Association and Surescripts-RxHub. For more information, visit

Press Contacts:
Rob Cronin
For The Center for Improving Medication Management

Amanda Denning
913-906-6000, ext. 5223

Nancy McMurrey

Kevin Walter

Susan Martin

Jane Howard
703 836-2272 ext. 3502.

Amy Murphy

Aimee Frank
AGA Institute

Vicki Martinka
AOA (American Osteopathic Association)

Susan Thomas
AOA (American Optometric Association)

Wendy Waldsachs Isett

Liz Johnson
303-799-1111, ext. 1347

Pam Udall

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