Press Room

The Nation?s Optometrists and Urologists Join Provider-led Electronic Prescribing Initiative

Move Aims to Help More AOA and AUA Members to Start E-Prescribing Before New Medicare Rules Take Effect on January 1, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? August 21, 2008 ? The American Optometric Association (AOA) and the American Urological Association (AUA) today announced their participation in "Get Connected," a program designed to help more of the nation?s prescribers begin sending prescriptions to pharmacies electronically. The program aims to help thousands of prescribers comply with new Medicare rules scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2009 ? rules that require all computer-generated prescriptions covered by the Medicare Part D program to be transmitted electronically.

Medicare is also taking new steps to speed the adoption of 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 ? where prescribers can follow a step-by-step process designed to help them transition from paper-based prescribing to e-prescribing.

"While many health care practices presently have patient record software programs which offer e-prescribing capabilities, many may not meet National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) standards which will be increasingly required over the coming years," AOA Health Information Technology and Telemedicine Committee Chair Fran McVeigh, OD noted.

"We are pleased to provide our members with useful information on how they can make the transition to e-prescribing and qualify for the Medicare bonuses payable", said Rick Rutherford, Director of Practice Management for the AUA.

Electronic prescribing, or "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 AOA and AUA, 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 Osteopathic Association (AOA)
  • the American Osteopathic Association (AOA)
  • the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)
  • and the Texas Medical Association (TMA)

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), 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 GetRxConnected.com, 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 GetRxConnected.com 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. GetRxConnected.com 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 American Optometric Association
The American Optometric Association (AOA) represents approximately 36,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians. Optometrists provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States and serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country. In 3,500 of those communities they are the only eye doctors.

AOA doctors of optometry are highly qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye and vision care who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in a patient's overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. For more information, visit www.aoa.org.

About the American Urological Association
Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is the pre-eminent professional organization for urologists, with more than 15,000 members throughout the world. An educational nonprofit organization, the AUA pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care by carrying out a wide variety of programs for members and their patients, including UrologyHealth.org, an award-winning on-line patient education resource, and the American Urological Association Foundation, Inc.

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