Up To 200,000 MDs Require eRx Exemption From CMS

Electronic prescribing has been an effort for at least the past decade and significant progress has been made (see Surescripts latest report). That being said, we all know that changing behavior in the office setting is difficult. It has been the bane of many a technology vendor in the healthcare space.

On the one hand, I’m not surprised to see that lots of physicians might apply for an exemption from CMS around electronic prescribing.

BUT, I was surprised by several things in this article:

  1. Some physicians simply used electronic prescribing to write the 10 scripts required and then turned it off.
  2. The fact that there could be so many doctors that fit the approved exemptions.

The exemptions are for physicians who:

  1. Practice in an area with limited high speed Internet access.
  2. Work in an area where a limited number of pharmacies accept electronic prescriptions.
  3. Cannot prescribe enough drug orders electronically due to local, state, or federal laws (e.g., controlled substances).
  4. Have limited prescribing activity. [but yet still see a lot of Medicare members]
  5. Have insufficient opportunities to report the e-prescribing measures because of their patient type.

I didn’t think that could get you to 200,000 physicians (who were actively working with Medicare patients). The one that seems most feasible is for physician who register to participate in the Medicare or Medicaid EMR incentive program AND both adopt and use the technology by the 2011 deadline. They can also get exemptions.

Physicians care because they have to:

  • Prescribe electronically 10 times before June 30th to avoid a 1% penalty on all Medicare payments in 2012 or
  • Prescribe more than 25 times before Dec 31st to earn a 1% bonus in 2012.

Depending on your patient base, this seems like a pretty good business case to at least get a system in; write for 26 prescriptions; and collect your bonus.

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