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Physician Groups Update E-Prescribing Guidelines

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 28, 2011

Five national healthcare organizations this week issued an updated "how-to" guide for healthcare professionals transitioning from paper to e-prescribing systems.

The 2011 edition of A Clinician's Guide to Electronic Prescribing is a collaborative by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the Medical Group Management Association, e-Health Initiative, and The Center for Improving Medication Management, the healthcare organizations said in a joint media release.

"Whether a physician practice is just beginning to e-prescribe or is already using the technology, this guide is an important resource for all physicians," AMA Board Secretary Steven J. Stack, MD, said in the statement. "This updated guide includes information about the federal e-prescribing incentive program and can help physicians understand the requirements so they can receive incentives and avoid penalties."

First issued in 2008, the updated guide examines the rapidly changing landscape for e-prescribing that has come about with the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, the Drug Enforcement Administration's rule allowing e-prescribing of controlled substances, and healthcare reform.

An executive summary says the guide will examine the impact of the federal government's push to encourage the use of electronic medical records, and the implications for physician practices, including:

• Financial incentives for physicians, especially those available through the HITECH Act, and the concept of "meaningful use" as it relates to this incentive program.

• Requirements for e-prescribing doctors will face in 2011, especially, the Medicare Fee Schedule for 2011, published in November of 2010, which explains the financial penalties in 2012 and 2013 associated with the failure to adopt e-prescribing in 2011.

• Recent Drug Enforcement Administration rule changes that now give prescribers the option

of prescribing controlled substances electronically. The rule removes a key barrier to e-prescribing and will likely lead to more adoption and use of the technology once the healthcare industry is in compliance.

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