In contrast to the concerns I have expressed in prior posts about the government’s EHR incentives plan, the Medicare ePrescribing program is an example of the appropriate way to reconcile the goals of the government with the needs and motivations of practicing physicians, on whose participation the success of the program depends.
The ePrescribing program should serve as a model for other government plans. It aligns the interests of all parties, delivering the healthcare-reform benefits the government has targeted—interoperability, sharing of data, cost savings, and improved quality of care through reduction of errors and adverse drug interactions—while simultaneously offering added value to physicians. The latter is the missing link in the proposed EMR incentives program.
With the right ePrescribing software, physicians improve practice workflow by using office staff more efficiently and by writing prescriptions in less time. At the same time, they make better-informed Rx decisions, reduce their malpractice exposure, and eliminate repeat patient calls that tie up staff unnecessarily—patient satisfaction increases. All of these factors lead to increased revenue and greater opportunities for practice growth. In addition to the benefits that accrue to physicians, pharmacies receive accurate, legible scripts that eliminate the need for clarification calls, and insurance companies see fewer claims for multiple-sourced prescriptions. ePrescribing is a win-win-win program for all parties.
Clearly, ePrescribing is inherently less complicated than adoption of a complete EHR. Unlike dealing with all the complexities and nuances of the human condition and its maladies, prescribing drugs electronically is easy because it deals with a finite set of data that is perfectly suited for a digital solution.