Monday, March 2, 2009

Medicare E-Prescribing Incentives

March 2, 2009
In order to encourage physicians to implement e-prescribing software, Medicare is giving away money--that's the carrot. In a couple years, doctors that haven't implemented e-prescribing will have Medicare funding taken away--that's the stick.

Here are the basics:

Start January 1, 2009, prescribers (we veer away from using the word "physicians" because this can apply to physicians assistants and nurse-practitioners; anybody, in other words, who can write a prescription) who use a qualified e-prescribing system will get an incentive payment of 2% of their yearly Medicare allowed charges. The 2% will run for 2009 and 2010. In 2011 the incentive will drop to 1%. In 2012 and 2013 the incentive will drop to 0.5%. Hello carrots. It's estimated that for most physicians this would be an additional $2000-$3000 a year, more than enough to pay for an e-presciption program.

Now, the stick:

In 2012, if you haven't got an e-presciption program in place, your allowed Medicare charges will be reduced by 1%. This will also apply to 2013. In 2014 it will decrease by 2%. As of right now, there's no plan to make that stop, so in theory you could just go on losing money forever.

That said, any physician who is cranky about being forced to pay for an e-prescription program can actually download a certified e-prescribing program for free--yes, FREE!--from the National Electronic Prescribing Patient Safety Initiative (NEPSI). The URL is

Mark Terry

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Healthcare WONK

March 1, 2009
Welcome to Terry Medical Intelligence & Communications. I'm Mark Terry. I'm a writer and healthcare analyst. I have a BSc in microbiology and public health and spent 18 years working in clinical and research cytogenetics prior to turning to writing. I am the editor of the international trade/technical journal, The Journal of the Association of Genetic Technologists, and a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ).

I am the author of several book-length market research reports on various aspects of healthcare including Washington G-2 Reports' Laboratory Industry Strategic Outlook 2007 and 2009, Quality Counts: The 2nd National Reagent Vendor Quality Survey Report, Laboratory Market Leaders Report, as well as other reports for Washington G-2 Reports. I also authored Home Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring for Insight and Intelligence, a Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publication.

My work also has appeared in Telemedicine and e-Health, Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News, Laboratory Industry Report, Drug Discovery & Development, Genomics & Proteomics, Podiatry Management, Veterinary Economics, ADVANCE for Medical Laboratory Professionals and numerous others.

This blog will focus on healthcare policy, regulation and business. I hope you'll stop by to discuss and debate topics of interest to everyone in the healthcare industry.

Mark Terry