E-Prescribing Incentives and Penalties
A lot of attention has been paid to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and its meaningful use requirements for electronic health record systems, leaving the requirements related to electronic prescribing (e-prescribing or eRx) lost in the shuffle. But did you know that the incentives and penalties in this area will affect your practice before ARRA? Let’s review the facts:
What is e-prescribing?
E-prescribing allows a medical provider to send a prescription to a pharmacy for a patient securely via the Internet.
How do I sign up for e-prescribing controlled substances?
You will need to choose software to send prescriptions from electronically. If you are already using an electronic health records system with e-prescribing, check with your vendor or value-added reseller (VAR) if they offer electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS).
If you are only using a practice management system, you can purchase a stand-alone e-prescribing application that can typically be accessed through a web browser. In some cases, the software can integrate with your practice management system so you do not have to do duplicate entry of patient demographic information.
Once you have an e-prescribing software in place, your vendor will need to register you as a provider with prescribing rights and then you will need to do ID proofing and EPCS token registration if you will be prescribing controlled substances electronically.
How much does an e-prescribing system cost?
There is a setup fee for getting started with e-prescribing. The setup fee is a one-time fee per provider and includes identity verification through IdenTrust which is a digital certificate that needs to be renewed every year.
EPCS requires additional verification via a “token” with each prescription. Hard tokens in the form of a keychain are available, as well as soft tokens in the form of a one-time password generated from a device—typically a mobile application—such as a smartphone or a tablet. There is a one-time fee to register your token(s) and if you lose it, there is a fee to replace it.
Stand-alone e-prescribing software will have a monthly cost per provider, starting at $100. The fee covers access, user accounts, backups, upgrades and updates, and typically support depending on the software provider.
If your electronic health record system offers e-prescribing, you will need to check with your vendor if the service is included in your maintenance plan. In some cases, EPCS is an additional fee while standard e-prescribing is included.
What are the benefits of e-prescribing?
E-Prescription software systems have many benefits!
- Your patients can get their medications much quicker.
- Patients’ pharmacies can send you refill requests electronically, saving you time on the phone.
- The e-prescription system will sync your patients’ health insurance and show you their eligibility benefits so you can give your patient a cost estimate for the drug(s).
- You can search for generic drugs very easily, and the system updates automatically when a drug becomes inactive.
- You can make common drugs prescribed your “favorites” and save templates with the sig for even quicker prescribing.
Are there any incentives for e-prescribing?
Under the merit-based payment system, electronic prescribing is a measure of the Promoting Interoperability category. The measure is worth 10 points of 100 total points towards the category.
Find out if you are eligible for the MIPS program for a potential 9%+ reimbursement on your Medicare claims.
EPCS Requirements for State
Explore the interactive map below to learn about the EPCS and PDMP information in your state.