According to Surescripts, e-prescribing increases the likelihood that patients will pick up their prescriptions. Patients whose providers use electronic prescribing are seven percentage points more likely to fill their medications compared with the old paper system. Surescripts provides the infrastructure for nearly all electronic prescribing in the United States.

E-Prescribing offers a number of benefits over the old paper system. First, they are sent via secure internet connection. This makes it much less likely the prescription will be lost or stolen en route. Second, electronic prescriptions makes illegible handwriting a thing of the past. Pharmacists save time trying to decipher the correct medication, dosage, and no longer have to call the physician for clarification.

Electronic prescribing software also has built-in safeguards that help improve patient care. Most systems will check formularies and notify physicians if they prescribe a drug that is not covered by the patient’s insurance. In addition, the software normally checks for potentially harmful or fatal drug-drug and drug-allergy interactions.

It is no coincidence that e-prescribing, formulary checking, and drug-drug and drug-allergy interaction checking are required by the HITECH stimulus program. HITECH will reimburse eligible providers up to $44,000 under Medicare or $64,000 under Medicaid for implementing certified electronic health records (EHR) software. Physicians have to meet the guidelines known as meaningful use (MU). MU requires providers to send more than 40% of permissible prescriptions electronically.

In addition to HITECH, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is offering a separate e-prescribing incentive separate from the HITECH program. Providers who have sent a certain number of electronic prescriptions during 2011 are eligible for a reimbursement equal to 1% of their Medicare charges. Providers who do not meet the minimum criteria may suffer a 1% penalty.

If you are interested in more information about electronic prescribing, please feel free to contact us at info@xlemr.com, or visit our website at http://www.xlemr.com. We will be happy to provide you with a free consultation regarding your HITECH or E-rx incentive eligibility. You can learn more about our electronic prescribing program here: http://www.xlemr.com/e-prescribe.html.