NCPA: E-prescribing should be more efficient in two-way communication, cost

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Providing grants to offset implementation and transaction fee costs and making two-way communication between prescribers and pharmacists easier were two suggestions for improvements to electronic prescribing that the National Community Pharmacists Association had for an e-prescribing committee Monday.

In written testimony at a hearing of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Information Technology Policy Committee Information Exchange Workgroup, the NCPA described independent pharmacies’ experiences accepting e-prescribing from physicians and gave some ideas for expanding the practice.

“Community pharmacists have a vested interest in making e-prescribing work because it potentially provides more accurate and faster electronic transmittal to pharmacists of computerized prescription information than written prescriptions,” NCPA CEO and EVP Bruce Roberts said in a statement. “However, challenges remain in the adoption and implementation of this technology, which is why I hope our recommendations to the information workgroup and the HIT policy committee are ultimately embraced.”

According to the testimony, current communication systems allow physicians to send prescriptions to pharmacists, but they don’t allow pharmacists to communicate back to physicians. The organization also said that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ e-prescribing participation requirements don’t incentivize physicians to increase their current levels of participation.

“The reality is that some pharmacists and pharmacies – particularly independent ones – are facing significant cost challenges in implementing e-prescribing,” Roberts said. “Actions taken by federal and state authorities should reflect those requirements and incentives that will firmly encourage the implementation of an effective, robust system of e-prescribing.”