More than half of doctors have already implemented the health IT tools they need to participate in the Electronic Health Records Incentive Program through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). When they deploy EHRs and start to use them instead of paper charts to document patients’ encounters, refer to and upgrade health histories and share data, they can qualify for stimulus payments as an incentive for making the switch.
The CMS has already released two stages of meaningful use standards, which are expected to guide the transition and ensure healthcare practitioners are meeting benchmarks for improving care quality. Some doctors are still hesitant about a few measures, such as greater patient access to records and transmission expectations, but most have embraced electronic prescribing.
Eprescribing presents immediate benefits
One of the main reasons doctors have been adopting eprescribing is error reduction. A 2010 Weill Cornell Medical College study of practices that had started to use digital documenting and transmitting method instead of filling out physical prescription pads found that the new method yielded seven mistakes for every 100 medications. That may seem like a lot, but it’s far less than the 37 errors out of every 100 prescriptions written by hand.
The higher rate of mistakes is largely owed to doctors’ handwriting. Eprescription standards eliminate the need for doctors to scrawl out medication names. If this initial adaptation is indicative of the system at large, promises that EHRs could reduce errors and improve the quality of care might prove to be accurate.
New transmission methods more secure than some doctors think
On the other hand, one of the primary reasons for dissenting the health IT reform is security. Many physicians and concerned patients are worried that keeping them in digital storage houses and transmitting them through servers could result in security breaches, However, those fears might be unfounded, Physicians Practice reports
“Physicians are often concerned, but the reality is eprescribing is more secure than paper prescribing, and even faxing, because the transmission is done through a secure channel,” said Tony Schueth, CEO and managing partner for health IT consultancy Point-of-Care Partners, as quoted by the media outlet.
“Hesitations about eprescribing often stem from unfamiliarity,” Schueth added. “Common concerns include such things as stealing a password and hacking into a system, and really they’re less of an issue than someone stealing a prescription pad.”