Throw Away Those Prescription Pads!

I’ve written a few stories for BizVoice magazine on electronic medical records during my tenure here at the Chamber. Over the last few years, I’ve asked three different physicians (our longtime doctor moved too far away and the first choice apparently skipped the bedside manner/communicate with your patients class in medical school; thus, three family docs) about their use of EMRs.

The paraphrased responses, in no particular order: not using them and don’t ever plan to; been using for about a year but it’s been a painful transition; and they are the greatest thing in the world. The latter seemed particularly efficient as she zipped off a prescription to the pharmacy while we were wrapping up our conversation.

E-prescribing is the focus of a new national report. According to the Center for Studying Healthy System Change, few doctors were e-prescribing advocates or using the advanced features that are available. The caveat is that the survey represents 2008 use, a year before federal incentives before put into place and prior to additional government emphasis on all things electronic in health care delivery.

Here’s a portion of the study release and link to the full report.

Even when physicians have access to e-prescribing, many do not routinely use the technology, particularly the more advanced features the federal government is promoting with financial incentives, according to a new national study released today by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC).

Slightly more than two in five office-based physicians reported that information technology (IT) was available in their practice to write prescriptions in 2008, the year before implementation of federal incentives, according to the study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). And, among physicians with e-prescribing capabilities, about a quarter used the technology only occasionally or not at all.

The study also found that  fewer than 60 percent of physicians with e-prescribing capability had access to three advanced features included as part of the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs—identifying potential drug interactions, obtaining formulary information and transmitting prescriptions to pharmacies electronically—and less than a quarter routinely used all three features.

“Adoption of e-prescribing remains low, particularly among the half of all physicians who work in solo or two- to five-physician practices, said study author Joy Grossman, Ph.D., an HSC senior researcher. “And, among physicians with e-prescribing capabilities, many do not use the technology routinely, and even fewer use advanced e-prescribing features routinely.”