More Are Qualifying for CMS eRx Incentives

The number of practices that qualified for electronic prescribing incentive payments increased 83% from 2009 to 2010, according to a recent report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services.

CMS pays eligible practices incentive money as part of its program to encourage e-prescribing. In 2010 practices received an average of $14,476 in incentive payments.

The number of practices that qualified for incentives in 2010 was 18,713, compared to 10,207 in 2009. While more providers are using e-prescribing, adoption has come with some challenges.

In 2010 the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a federal agency that researches the quality and effectiveness of health care services, interviewed physicians about their experiences with e-prescribing.

Generally, providers welcomed the method but said they experienced problems when sending prescription renewal requests, connecting with mail-order pharmacies and entering data. A lot of confusion came when both practices and pharmacies continued to use phone and fax as additional forms of communication.

“While some challenges may be mitigated as physicians and pharmacies gain more experience, structural issues underlying these challenges likely will need to be addressed directly,” said Senior Manager for Health IT at AHRQ Teresa Zayas-Caban said.

Health care practices and pharmacies likely worked on a lot these issues in 2011. But more first-timers will start using e-prescribing since CMS will start penalizing nonusers this year.

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