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AMA releases new edition of e-prescribing guide

The Association and four partners offer advice on becoming meaningful users of electronic medical records.

By — Posted May 5, 2011

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The American Medical Association and four partner organizations in late April issued an updated version of "A Clinician's Guide to Electronic Prescribing." The organizations said the guide reflects changes in the health care environment.

The original guide, published in 2008, predated events aimed at pushing physicians toward e-prescribing. The events include the Medicare e-Rx program, which pays physicians bonuses for e-prescribing through 2013. Physicians who don't e-prescribe by 2013 will see a 1% reduction in Medicare payment that increases to 2% in 2014 and each subsequent year.

Other events driving the release of a new edition included the 2009 passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, the 2010 enactment of the health system reform law, and the Drug Enforcement Agency's rule allowing electronic prescribing of controlled substances. The implications of each event are discussed in the updated guide.

The guide provides basic information about switching from paper to electronic prescribing, including a readiness assessment and a buyer's guide. For the more than one-third of office-based physicians who were e-prescribing by the end of 2010, the guide offers advice on how to make the transition from e-prescribing to becoming a meaningful user of full electronic medical records systems. Meaningful use is a set of criteria established by the Dept. of Health and Human Services that physicians must meet to receive incentive payments of as much as $44,000 over five years from Medicare, or nearly $64,000 over six years from Medicaid.

"Whether a physician practice is just beginning to e-prescribe or is already using the technology, this guide is an important resource for all physicians," said AMA Secretary Steven J. Stack, MD. "This updated guide includes information about the federal e-prescribing incentive program and can help physicians understand the requirements so they can receive incentives and avoid penalties."

The organizations that partnered with the AMA on the guide are the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the Center for Improving Medication Management, the eHealth Initiative and the Medical Group Management Assn. The Association also sought input from the Quincy (Ill.) Medical Group; the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society; Excellus, a BlueCross BlueShield plan in New York; and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The guide is available online at no charge to physicians (link).

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