I wish I had better news to report but, according to a new national study from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) based on surveys from 2008 only one-third of all physicians in ambulatory settings (32.3%) routinely used e-prescribing.
There are a couple of immediate barriers. First, only two in five physicians in office-based ambulatory practice (41.9%) reported that technology was available in their practice to write e-prescriptions in 2008. Offices where they use only electronic records were more apt e-prescribe – indicating that perhaps where paper is available it’s use is still more prevalent.
Also there’s a hierarchy of use. When you e-prescribe you can use the system to check for adverse drug interactions, you can check to see if a drug is covered by the patient’s insurance and you can send the prescription the pharmacy. Few doctors reported using all features.
The good news is that there are policies in place to encourage greater use – or meaningful use. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have recently created a site that highlights the meaningful use incentives. I haven’t been following a lot but in short doctors are compensated for using the online tools. It sounds as if they can earn a 2.0% incentive payment for demonstrating e-prescribing use.
The study in fact appears to be a base report upon which the CMS will measure success of their incentive programs. So if you’re a healthcare professional or are hoping to work with a healthcare professional you might want to learn more.