Press Room

Texas Medical Association Becomes First State Medical Organization to Join Provider-led Electronic Prescribing Initiative

Move Aims to Help More Texas Physicians to Start E-Prescribing Before New Medicare Rules Take Effect on January 1, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? August 21, 2008 ? The Texas Medical Association (TMA) today announced its participation in ?Get Connected,? a program designed to help more of the nation?s prescribers begin sending prescriptions to pharmacies electronically. In announcing their support, the TMA becomes the first state medical society in the nation to join the Get Connected program. The program aims to help thousands of physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants comply with new Medicare rules scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2009. The rules require that all computer-generated prescriptions covered by the Medicare Part D program be transmitted electronically.

Medicare is also taking new steps to speed the adoption of electronic prescribing or e-prescribing by offering incentive payments to physicians and other eligible professionals who use the technology. Beginning in 2009, and during the next four years, Medicare will provide incentive payments to eligible professionals who are successful electronic prescribers. Eligible professionals will receive a 2 percent incentive payment in 2009 and 2010; a 1 percent incentive payment in 2011 and 2012; and a one-half percent incentive payment in 2013.

The focal point of the Get Connected program is an online portal ? www.GetRxConnected.com/TMA ? where prescribers can follow a step-by-step process designed to help them transition from paper-based prescribing to e-prescribing.

"Electronic prescribing is one of the first and most important steps a physician can take to make health care safer for our patients and more efficient for our practices,? said TMA president Josie R. Williams, MD, a nationally known expert in patient safety and health care quality improvement.? I urge all of our member physicians to see how the Get Connected program can help them take this step."

Through the end of 2007, approximately 1,500 of the physicians in Texas were e-prescribing. In the most recent ranking of all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. based on e-prescribing activity, Texas ranked number 30 in the nation.

E-prescribing replaces the need for handwritten, printed or faxed prescriptions and is seen as a more accurate and efficient means of prescribing medications. And because it is paperless, e-prescribing is also regarded as a secure alternative to paper prescriptions which can be stolen, copied, forged and otherwise manipulated.

In addition to the TMA, Get Connected is supported by:

  • the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)
  • the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
  • the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
  • the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)
  • the American College of Cardiology (ACC)
  • the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
  • the American Optometric Association (AOA)
  • the American Osteopathic Association (AOA)
  • the American Urological Association (AUA)
  • and the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

If you are a member of a state medical society or national provider organization and would like to get more information about how your membership can Get Connected for e-prescribing, please contact Kate Berry, executive director at The Center for Improving Medication Management at kate.berry@SureScriptsRxHub.com.

Created under the auspices of The Center for Improving Medication Management (founded by the AAFP, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Humana Inc., Intel Corporation, the MGMA and SureScripts-RxHub), www.GetRxConnected.com contains urgent information and guidance for an estimated 150,000 prescribers located throughout the U.S. that are currently using electronic medical record (EMR) and other clinical software to fax prescriptions to pharmacies. Computer-generated faxing of prescriptions not only prevents prescribers from achieving the gains in practice efficiency and patient safety associated with e-prescribing, but starting on January 1, 2009, all computer-generated prescriptions covered by the Medicare Part D program must be transmitted electronically and not via computer-generated fax. (Important Note to Prescribers Using EMRs: Most EMR users believe that they already send prescriptions to pharmacies electronically ? i.e., they are unaware that it is far more likely that their EMR is generating faxes that arrive on paper at the pharmacy?s fax machine. These computer-generated, faxed prescriptions will not be in compliance with the new Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) Part D regulations.)

Through www.GetRxConnected.com/TMA Texas prescribers and their staffs can find out if the software brand and version they are using is certified to generate e-prescriptions compliant with the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) SCRIPT standard as required by the new Medicare regulations. The SCRIPT standard facilitates the electronic transmission of prescriptions and prescription-related information. Following the completion of a brief self-assessment, visitors to www.GetRxConnected.com/TMA can receive a free, personalized report that indicates the compliance status of their existing software and that can be used to request an electronic connection to pharmacies through their vendor.

The Get Connected program is equally intended for prescribers and practice management professionals who have yet to invest in EMR or other clinical software. The portal provides guidance on how to evaluate and acquire technology that supports e-prescribing. www.GetRxConnected.com/TMA also helps prescribers and practice management professionals to assess the financial impact of e-prescribing using an interactive feature that allows them to calculate an estimate of the time and resources their practice is currently dedicating to the manual processing of prescriptions.

E-Prescribing: An Opportunity to Save Time, Dollars and Lives
There remains a sizable opportunity to increase the adoption and use of e-prescribing nationwide. Although SureScripts-RxHub estimates that more than 100 million prescription transactions will be routed electronically in 2008, that number represents only 7 percent of eligible prescriptions (see The National Progress Report on E-Prescribing at www.surescripts.com/report). The realization of e-prescribing?s full potential represents an unprecedented opportunity to improve patient safety and the efficiency of the prescribing process.

According to the Center for Information Technology Leadership, use of electronic prescribing with an electronic connection to pharmacy and advanced decision-support capabilities could help prevent 130,000 life-threatening medication errors annually.

By eliminating paper from the prescribing process, and particularly by automating prescription renewals, e-prescribing has been proven to offer significant time savings by reducing prescription-related phone calls and faxes, allowing prescribers and their staffs more time to care for their patients. A study by MGMA?s Group Practice Research Network estimated that administrative complexity related to prescriptions costs practices $15,700 a year for each full-time physician ? that does not even take into consideration the time and cost of managing faxes.

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About the Texas Medical Association
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 43,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 120 component county medical societies around the state. TMA?s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

About The Center for Improving Medication Management
The Center for Improving Medication Management serves as an industry resource by gathering and disseminating best and worst practices related to technology deployment for electronic medication management and for leveraging that technology and connectivity to test innovative approaches to improve patient adherence with prescribed medications. The Center was founded by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), Humana Inc., Intel Corporation, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) and SureScripts-RxHub. More information about The Center is available at www.theCIMM.org.


Press Contacts:
Rob Cronin
For The Center for Improving Medication Management
917-414-5289
rob.cronin@surescripts.com

Amanda Denning
AAFP
913-906-6000, ext. 5223
adenning@aafp.org

Nancy McMurrey
AANP
512-276-5906
nmcmurrey@aanp.org

Susan Martin
AAP
847-434-7131
ssmartin@aap.org

Jane Howard
AAPA
703 836-2272 ext. 3502
jane@aapa.org

Amy Murphy
ACC
202-375-6476
amurphy@acc.org

Vicki Martinka
AOA (American Osteopathic Association)
312-202-8159
vmartinka@osteopathic.org

Susan Thomas
AOA (American Optometric Association)
314-983-4176
slthomas@aoa.org

Wendy Waldsachs Isett
AUA
410-689-3789
wisett@auanet.org

Liz Johnson
MGMA
303-799-1111, ext. 1347
eaj@mgma.com

Pam Udall
TMA
512-413-6807
pam.udall@texmed.com