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AHRQ, CMS release tools before 2013 eRx deadline


If you haven't filed your 2012 e-prescriptions--or filed for an exemption--help is here. See what tools could save you from big payment cuts.

Two government agencies released tools recently that could help you meet the mandated e-prescribing deadline-or at least apply for an extension if you can’t meet the deadline. But you’ll have to act before June 30 to avoid a cut to your Medicare payments.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released a toolset to help physician offices begin e-prescribing. The toolset, available at no charge at the AHRQ Web site, has 11 downloadable documents, including:

surveys to determine whether you’re ready to e-prescribe (eRx), such as assessments of computer skills and healthcare information technology (HIT) infrastructure;

a team roster to nominate “candidates” for specific tasks and assign duties for the new processes;

a goals worksheet and poster to explain why you’re pursuing e-prescribing and techniques for measuring your success; and

handouts to explain the change to patients and local pharmacies.

The AHRQ Web site says the toolset is designed for everyone from small, independent offices to large medical groups.

“The toolset may be of particular use to small or solo practices that may not have the resources to hire external IT experts to assist with implementation efforts,” Teresa Zayas Cabán, PhD, AHRQ senior manager for HIT, tells Medical Economics. “More successful implementations will allow realization of the benefits that these systems can offer in terms of patient safety and healthcare efficiencies and support organizations as they try to meet federal incentive program requirements.”

A counterpart toolset for independent pharmacies released by AHRQ also may be worth a look, Cabán says.

“Primary care providers could benefit from reading or reviewing [it] to understand in more depth how prescriptions are transmitted to, received by, and processed at the pharmacy, so they can better support medication management processes using e-prescribing,” she says.

The help may be just in time for practices on the cusp of meeting the June 30 deadline to avoid the 2013 eRx payment adjustment. If not, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its own tool to help you apply for a hardship exemption.

The Quality Reporting Communication Support Page on CMS’ Web site allows anyone participating in the group practice reporting option to ask for an exemption without having filed a single e-prescription, although requests still can be made during the claims process. The page also has a user guide and tips to ease the process.

Individual physicians must have filed at least 10 eRx claims, and small practices must have filed 625 claims, between January 1 and June 30 to be considered successful e-prescribers. Those who are not successful and do not receive an exemption will lose 1.5% of their Medicare Part B physician fee schedule payment. That’s on top of the 1% lost in 2012 for not filing in the 2011 calendar year.

Exemptions are available for a variety of reasons, including low prescribing numbers, lack of Internet access, or too few pharmacies able to receive e-prescriptions.

For more information, visit www.CMS.gov/ERxIncentive

Go back to current issue of eConsult

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