e-prescribing

Deadline to Request Exemption from Federal ePrescribing Penalty is Jan. 31

Posted in e-prescribing, Medicare on January 11th, 2013 by MMS – Comments Off on Deadline to Request Exemption from Federal ePrescribing Penalty is Jan. 31

Physicians who were unable to file for a Medicare ePrescribing hardship exemption by the original deadline have until Jan. 31 to avoid the 1.5 percent payment penalty in 2013.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has re-opened the Communications Support Web page to allow physicians who missed the June 30, 2012 deadline to file for an exemption.

Physicians may request a waiver of the 2013 penalty under any of the following categories:

  • The physician is unable to ePrescribe as a result of local, state or federal law or regulation.
  • The physician wrote fewer than 100 prescriptions during the period of Jan. 1–June 30, 2012.
  • The physician practices in a rural area that doesn’t have sufficient high-speed Internet access.
  • The physician practices in an area that doesn’t have enough pharmacies that can do ePrescribing.

CMS also added two hardship categories for those participating in Medicare’s electronic health record meaningful use program. Physicians do not need to apply for an exemption related to these meaningful use hardship categories; CMS will automatically determine whether physicians meet those requirements.

Visit the CMS ePrescribing Web page to learn more. Physicians can contact CMS’s QualityNet Help Desk at (866) 288-8912 or via email with questions or for assistance submitting their hardship exemption requests. Support is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday.

Physicians who use Apple computers may experience technical problems; CMS encourages them to contact the Help Desk for assistance.

Hardship exemption requests for the 2014 payment penalty will be accepted during a separate period later this year.

Debate on Prescription Drug Bill Resolved; Goes to Governor for Signature

Posted in Drug Abuse, e-prescribing, Pharmaceutical Industry, Regulation on August 9th, 2012 by MMS Communications – 1 Comment

The Massachusetts House and Senate today resolved the debate over a proposed prescription drug monitoring bill intended to increase scrutiny of the way prescriptions are handled. The bill now goes to Governor Patrick for his signature.

According to State House News Service, the bill would limit the number of doctors who overprescribe medications that may be abused or illegally sold and would increase participation in the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) by prescribers – a tactic that can be used to identify patients who might be engaged in “doctor shopping”  to gain drugs.

The compromise bill contains provisions that the MMS had advocated for: automatic enrollment in the Prescription Monitoring Program and a required check of the database only for new patients.  MMS had argued that automatic enrollment would increase registrations, currently numbering only 1,800 out of 40,000 some prescribers in the state, and that mandatory use of the system would negatively affect long-standing physician-patient relationships.

Under the bill, participation in the PMP by those who prescribe controlled substances would be mandatory, but enrollment becomes automatic upon license renewal – a provision that the Medical Society said would reduce administrative burdens on physicians and avoid a cumbersome process of paper applications. The bill also says prescribers would only be required to consult the PMP for new patients, and dropped a requirement that physicians check the database before prescribing painkillers to a patient for the first time –a condition the MMS had opposed, saying that any law should allow prescribers to use their professional judgment in treating a patient.

Among the bill’s other provisions as reported by the News Service: Medicaid patients who fill 11 prescriptions from four doctors or at four different pharmacies within 90 days would be put on a watch list; pharmacies would be prohibited from filling prescriptions for narcotics unless written by a doctor licensed and registered in-state, or in one of the five contiguous states to Massachusetts and Maine; a ban on the drug called “bath salts;” pharmacies and drug manufacturers must report thefts to local or state police and the Drug Enforcement Agency; prescriptions for controlled substances would have to be written by doctors on “secure,” tamper-proof prescription pads already required for Medicare and Medicaid patient; pharmacies will be required to sell drug lockboxes, but they will only have to advertise them near registers; the Department of Public Health will provide patient information on the dangers of Class II and Class III drugs; and a working group of physicians will be tapped to write a “best practices” guide for prescribing opioids.

 

Deadline for Seeking ePrescribing Exemption Extended to Nov. 8

Posted in e-prescribing on November 1st, 2011 by MMS – Comments Off on Deadline for Seeking ePrescribing Exemption Extended to Nov. 8

We’ve just gotten word that CMS has extended the deadline for physicians to file for an exemption from the ePrescribing penalty to Tuesday, November 8, after hearing from the AMA that many physicians were having difficulty filing for the exemption, because of technical difficulties with the federal government’s website.

To get an extension, you must apply online. No other form of request will be accepted. To request an exemption, submit this online form.

The exemption categories are the same :

  • You’re already registered in a Medicare or Medicare electronic health record incentive program
  • You prescribe infrequently. Either you wrote fewer than 10 prescriptions during the first six months of 2011, or had fewer than 100 Part B claims with codes and services that fall within ePrescribing measures during the first six months of 2011.
  • You practice in an area without high-speed internet access.
  • You practice in an area without enough pharmacies that can handle ePrescribing.
  • You cannot participate in the ePrescribing program because of limitations of local, state or federal law or regulation.

The physician must personally submit the application for an exemption – it cannot be done by someone else on your behalf.

If you’re not sure whether you qualify for an exemption, the AMA suggests that you apply anyway. There is no appeals process after the fact.

For more detailed information, download the AMA’s information sheet. (.pdf, 3 pages)

Apply for the exemption here.

What to Do if You Have Problems Accessing the Hardship Exemption Web Page

Some providers are having difficulty with accessing the Communication Support Page.  After doing some research they found that the problem is related to an issue with the internet browser.  CMS is asking eligible professionals to take the step below if they are unsuccessful in accessing the Communication Support Page when trying to submit their Hardship Exemption Request.

After typing in the above link, in the internet browser, select Tools/Internet Options/Advanced.  Scroll down toward the bottom and locate the “Use TLS 1.0” choice.  Place a checkmark in the “Use TLS 1.0.”  Click OK. Attempt to access the site again.

If you still have trouble accessing the site, the QualityNet Help Desk may be reached at (866) 288-8912 or email qnetsupport@sdps.org from 7am to 7pm CT, Monday through Friday.  Due to the high volume of calls that the QualityNet Help Desk has been receiving there may be a waiting period.

Act Now to Avoid the Medicare ePrescribing Penalty

Posted in e-prescribing, Medicare on October 28th, 2011 by MMS – Comments Off on Act Now to Avoid the Medicare ePrescribing Penalty

UPDATED:  Nov. 1, 2011

Physicians have until Tuesday, Nov. 8, to ask for an exemption from a 1 percent cut in Medicare payments for failing to meet Medicare’s ePrescribing requirements for 2012.

To get an extension, you must apply online. No other form of request will be accepted. To request an exemption, submit this online form.

Who’s eligible for an exemption?

  • You’re already registered in a Medicare or Medicare electronic health record incentive program
  • You prescribe infrequently. Either you wrote fewer than 10 prescriptions during the first six months of 2011, or had fewer than 100 Part B claims with codes and services that fall within ePrescribing measures during the first six months of 2011.
  • You practice in an area without high-speed internet access.
  • You practice in an area without enough pharmacies that can handle ePrescribing.
  • You cannot participate in the ePrescribing program because of limitations of local, state or federal law or regulation.

The physician must personally submit the application for an exemption – it cannot be done by someone else on your behalf.

If you’re not sure whether you qualify for an exemption, the AMA suggests that you apply anyway. There is no appeals process after the fact.

For more detailed information, download the AMA’s information sheet. (.pdf, 3 pages)

Apply for the exemption here.

What to Do if You Have Problems Accessing the Hardship Exemption Web Page

CMS and the QualityNet Help Desk has been receiving calls from Eligible Professionals who are having difficulty with accessing the Communication Support Page.  After doing some research they found that the problem is related to an issue with the internet browser.  CMS is asking eligible professionals to take the step below if they are unsuccessful in accessing the Communication Support Page when trying to submit their Hardship Exemption Request.

After typing in the above link, in the internet browser, select Tools/Internet Options/Advanced.  Scroll down toward the bottom and locate the “Use TLS 1.0” choice.  Place a checkmark in the “Use TLS 1.0.”  Click OK. Attempt to access the site again.

If you still have trouble accessing the site, the QualityNet Help Desk may be reached at 1-866-288-8912 or email at qnetsupport@sdps.org from 7am to 7pm CT, Monday through Friday.  Due to the high volume of calls that the QualityNet Help Desk has been receiving there may be a waiting period.

Clinician’s Guide to Electronic Prescribing Now Available

Posted in e-prescribing on October 9th, 2008 by MMS – Comments Off on Clinician’s Guide to Electronic Prescribing Now Available

All of the 1,400-plus attendees at the National E-Prescribing Conference received a copy of the just-published Clinician’s Guide to Electronic Prescribing. The 40-page primer introduces the concept of e-prescribing to the uninitiated and provides concrete adoption strategies and advice for practices ready to take the plunge.

The free guide was developed with the assistance of the AMA, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Physicians. It contains a buyer’s-guide checklist for comparing different vendors’ systems and a useful listing of national and state E-Rx  initiatives.

Download at www.ehealthinitiative.org

— Lloyd Resnick

E-Prescribing Lessons Learned Shared in Breakout Sessions

Posted in e-prescribing on October 9th, 2008 by MMS – 1 Comment

The messages from users and implementers of electronic prescribing systems were loud, clear — and repetitive. In real-life scenarios, repetition translates into “truth.” Here are some of the oft-cited “best practices” from breakout sessions at the National E-Prescribing Conference:

  • Training in — and use by — all physicians and staff in a group/practice site is essential. “Dabbling” or piecemeal adoption of e-prescribing does not work.
  • The e-prescribing system should interface with the practice management system.
  • Notify all local pharmacies in person that you plan to initiate e-prescribing . (More than 90 percent of the nation’s pharmacies have the capacity to handle electronic scripts, but many lack actual experience.)
  • The answer to the standalone versus integral-with-an-EHR system question depends on individual practice work patterns and available human and financial resources. (The CCHIT recently agreed to certify standalone e-prescribing systems, which should ease fears about interoperability among these “simpler” systems.)
  • Keep a trainer (or in-house “superuser”) on-site for three to five days after you go live.
  • When doing a pre-implementation cost-benefit analysis, remember to calculate annual maintenance costs. Incentives alone (from Medicare and/or any private health plan that might offer them) will probably not cover maintenance costs.

— Lloyd Resnick

VIPs Address Big Picture at E-Prescribing Conference

Posted in e-prescribing on October 9th, 2008 by MMS – Comments Off on VIPs Address Big Picture at E-Prescribing Conference

While in-the-trenches experts covered the nuts and bolts of e-prescribing during breakout sessions at the National E-Prescribing Conference in Boston on October 6-7, attendees received big-picture views from high-level state and federal officials during opening and closing plenaries.

Remarks from the federal side always mentioned the 2 percent bonus from Medicare for physicians who prescribe electronically, beginning January 1. Almost all the VIPs also mentioned the down-to-the-wire agreement on the Medicaid waiver. “The recent Medicaid waiver agreement was a remarkable example of the federal government and Massachusetts working together,” said Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

The benefits of e-prescribing are rarely debated anymore. Kerry Weems, acting administrator at the CMS, said it best: “We don’t know how much money widespread deployment of e-prescribing will save, but we know it will save lives.”

Later, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry cited a statistic that “a 5 percent increase in the use of electronic prescribing could save doctors $1 billion over five years.”

At 14 percent, Massachusetts has the highest percentage of electronic prescribing of any state in the nation. If you consider that adoption rate low, physicians nationwide have been adopting even more slowly. Taking a businessperson’s view, Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri said, “The huge growth in American productivity during the last 20 years has been driven by information technology. That same opportunity exists in health care, and e-prescribing is a relatively simple IT application.”

David Brailer, M.D., former national coordinator for health information technology, characterized physician adoption as a “diffusion, not a stampede.”

During a luncheon talk, Kevin Hutchinson, founding president and former CEO of SureScripts, noted that nationwide, 80 percent of prescriptions are written by 30 percent of providers. He suggested that efforts to “convert” physicians focus on that 30 percent.

Michael Leavitt, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said information technology is a crucial part of a national plan to achieve “value-driven” health care. “We don’t really have a health care ‘system’ today,” he said. “We have a robust and rapidly growing health care ‘sector.’ Electronic prescribing is one important part of transforming health care from a sector into a system.”

— Lloyd Resnick