E-Prescribing Incentives Start With New Year
> 12/19/2008 3:02:58 PM

Despite a veto from President Bush, Congress recently passed a bill that utilizes Medicare payments to encourage doctors to e-prescribe. The bill, which comes into effect on January 1st, is an elegant way to prod doctors past their resistance to transition. Instead of a strict deadline, the bill employs escalating bonuses and penalties so that doctors eventually realize that their old method is costly in addition to obsolete.

The bill starts off gently with only bonuses, giving a 2% bonus for each e-prescription written in 2009. This bonus gives clinicians who want to make the switch but are stuck by inertia a good reason to change. For those who need more prodding, the penalties begin at 1.5% in 2012 and rise by .5% every year after. At some point, even the most technophobic doctor is going to look at his shrinking profits and take the leap into the Internet-Age.

Perhaps anticipating the new economic incentives, the percentage of doctors who e-prescribe has already doubled in 2008 from 6% to 12%. With free software offered by non-profit groups like the National ePrescribing Patient Safety Initiative, the trend will almost certainly continue at a rapid pace. Whether the notoriously bad handwriting of doctors is due to deficient penmanship training or rushed schedules, e-prescribing will solve the problem and lower the chance of misread or misplaced prescriptions.

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