Survey: More nursing homes are considering e-prescribing

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Most facility operators responding to a new survey say that their next technology-related purchase will be an e-prescribing system. That's according to findings relayed in the Aug. 9 McKnight's Super Tuesday webcast, “Surveying the technology landscape.”

Long-term care has been “behind the 8-ball” in the past on the technology front, though this is starting to change, noted speaker Linda Spokane, director of analytics and technical services at the New York Association of Homes & Services for the Aging.

Experts have observed a huge upward swing in the number of long-term care providers adopting e-prescribing systems as a way to decrease medication errors and improve safety. An estimated 20% prescription orders go unfilled by patients across various settings with paper-based systems.

“Technology is going to make your job easier as we move forward with pay-for-performance programs,” Spokane said. “The emphasis on health homes will facilitate the need to adopt new technologies.”

Electronic medical record adoption rates are less than 50% in New York, and only 7% of LeadingAge facilities in the state are involved with their local health information organizations, Spokane reported, citing a NYAHSA study. She said she suspects other states have similar rates.

“There's been an increase in the use of technology,” she noted. “EMR, telehealth and telemedicine systems are being adopted at higher rates, but cost is a major barrier. The next step is to educate [providers] about adopting and adapting new technology.”

Congress is increasingly looking at technology to improve both care and the bottom line. In fact, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) sent a letter in mid-August to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in which she requested that HHS consider a study of health IT's benefits and cost effectiveness, with a focus on evaluating medical error rates.