November 25, 2009


E-Prescribing: The Automation Litmus Test

In a recent blog post on The Healthcare IT Guy, Shahid N. Shah warns physicians Don’t drink the Kool-Aid: Tips for easing into medical technology if you’re afraid of EMRs. He writes that “EMRs might be a good entry point for some folks but it’s actually more likely that EMRs aren’t your first place to start your automation journey.”
Shah emphasizes other solutions which can help practices ease into the automation process. Not surprisingly he highlights eprescribing; however, rather than a magic pill, he positions eprescribing simply as a litmus test to see if complete automation would be a benefit:

“E-prescribing is a great place to start your automation journey because it’s a fast way to realize how much slower the digital process is in capturing clinical data. If e-prescribing alone makes you slower in your job, EMRs will likely affect you even more. If you’re productive with e-prescribing then EMRs in general will make you more productive too.”

This is a great point. For a fraction of the price and difficulty of implementing full-blown EHR, the eprescribing measuring stick should be able to reveal if healthcare information technology (healthcare IT) will benefit your practice. The fact is, many Rcopia users find eprescribing speeds them up, enhancing efficiency of the prescribing and renewal process. It’s not just a matter of using healthcare IT, but of using the right product for your practice so choose wisely—going with the least expensive product to “try healthcare IT out” might result in the impression that HEALTHCARE IT slows you down and doesn’t work for your practice, whereas the right product might give the completely opposite outcome. With CMS’ 2008 MIPPA incentive establishing a 2% bonus for Medicare providers who utilize e-prescribing, and the pending ARRA HITECH incentives, what have you got to lose? It’s much easier to qualify for the incentive in 2010 – just eprescribe during 25 Medicare office, nursing home, or home visits.
Peter Kaufman, MD

About pkaufman

Schooled at MIT, Dr. Kaufman nurtured a strong interest in medical informatics while a Bowman Gray School of Medicine faculty member. After entering private practice he founded PiNK software in 1996 to produce EMR software, later becoming DrFirst’s chief medical officer upon its founding. He lectures nationally on various healthcare IT topics, and as a board certified gastroenterologist, he continues a limited clinical practice. Dr. Kaufman is a member of the Health IT Standards Committee, Privacy and Security Workgroup for ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare Information Technology). Representing the American Gastroenterology Association’s (AGA), Dr. Kaufman is a delegate to the AMA and was the co-chair of the Physicians Electronic Health Record Consortium (PEHRC). He has participated on workgroups at CCHIT (stand-alone e-prescribing), HIMSS (e-prescribing), and NCPDP (e-prescribing).