HHS program to pay healthcare professionals who e-prescribe

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The Department of Health and Human Services has announced a new incentive program to help spur the advancement of electronic prescribing practices.

Starting in 2009 and 2010, physicians and other "eligible professionals" will receive a 2% incentive payment for successful use of e-prescriptions. In 2011, that incentive will drop to 1%, then to 0.5% in 2013. Eligible professionals who have not implemented a successful e-prescribing system by 2012 will incur a payment reduction, according to HHS. Some facilities can be exempted from the penalty if it is determined they will be adversely affected by the system.

E-prescribing could help reduce medication errors and adverse drug reactions among Medicare beneficiaries, according to HHS. Recent estimates place the number of adverse drug reaction at roughly 530,000 per year. Many of these lead to hospitalizations or admissions to nursing homes. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has said it spends up to $900 million per year treating adverse drug reactions (McKnight's, 5/27) and any money saved through e-prescribing can be put towards other beneficiary services.
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