CMS e-prescribing incentives soar

E-prescribing incentive payments under a government program grew 83 percent in 2010, according to a new report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The total amount that CMS paid out to eligible providers jumped from $148.7 million in 2009 to $270.9 million in 2010.

According to the report, 65,857 eligible providers received an average incentive payment of $3,836 in 2010. CMS paid an average of $14,476 to 18,713 medical practices that year.

Altogether, 113,000 providers, or 16 percent of those eligible, participated in the e-prescribing incentive program in 2010. Fewer than 60 percent of those who applied for incentives received them. Of the participating providers, 90 percent submitted claims data and most of the rest submitted information through registries.

The specialties with the highest percentages of participating providers were cardiology (35 percent), ophthalmology (34 percent), and rheumatology (32 percent).

Based on the data submitted to the e-prescribing program, CMS estimates that 113,000 eligible professionals and 27,000 practices are using e-prescribing systems. Physicians who don't prescribe electronically will be subject to CMS penalties, starting this year.

In a related development, the Southeast Michigan ePrescribing Initiative (SEMI), which was launched by the automakers seven years ago, announced that its enrollment has increased 33 percent to 7,500 physicians in the past year. SEMI physicians are now transmitting more than 1 million prescriptions per month electronically, the organization announced.

According to an analysis conducted in December 2011, SEMI physicians have received moderate or severe drug-to-drug alerts for more than 6.2 million prescriptions. As a result of those alerts, doctors canceled or changed 1.8 million of those prescriptions.

Physicians also received nearly 923,000 medication allergy alerts. As a result, prescribing doctors changed or canceled more than 250,000 of those prescriptions.

Part of the increase in e-prescribing documented by CMS and SEMI seems related to the growth in EHR adoption. According to Surescripts, which connects most providers and pharmacies, 79 percent of e-prescribers used EHRs in 2010, up from 70 percent in 2009.

To learn more:
- read the CMS report (.pdf)
- see the SEMI announcement

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