|BCBSMA To Require e-Prescribing To Qualify For Physician Incentive Programs
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) said it
is requiring physicians who prescribe medications to electronically
prescribe to qualify for any of its physician incentive programs
effective Jan. 1, 2011.
BCBSMA said it is introducing this initiative in an
effort to continuously improve the quality, affordability and
efficiency of care for its members. The new requirement applies to both
primary care physicians and specialists. Currently, 99 percent of
primary care physicians in the HMO Blue Network and 78 percent of
specialists participate in BCBSMA incentive plans.
BCBSMA incentive programs reward physicians for meeting
identified nationally recognized quality standards and patient safety
goals. Prior to this requirement, e-prescribing was an optional
incentive measure rather than an eligibility requirement for
participating in BCBSMA incentive programs.
The new e-prescribing requirement comes one year before
the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) deadline for
prescribing without penalty.
Believing start-up costs continue to be a challenge for
wide-spread adoption of e-prescribing, BCBSMA plans to help doctors by
supporting a number of new licenses in 2009. This helps offset the wait
for thee-prescribing incentive payouts from the CMS which begin in
According to John Fallon, chief physician executive,
BCBSMA, "Our incentive programs are designed to reward doctors for
taking steps to improve the quality of care for patients, and
e-prescribing has certainly proven to increase quality of care."
BCBSMA said a recent patient safety study conducted by
researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute proved the impact of
e-prescribing on adverse drug events. According to the study, it was
estimated that the nearly 104,000 prescriptions changed by
e-prescribing collaborative prescribers in 2007 prevented 724 potential
adverse drug events, caused by potential drug-drug or drug-allergy
In addition to making healthcare safer, e-prescribing
has an impact on reducing costs. The prevention of adverse drug events
noted from the Dana Farber study above saved the healthcare system an
estimated $630,000. At the patient level, through physician’s
adhering to formularies, co-payments reduce. In 2006, physicians who
used an e-prescribing device were able to choose more cost-efficient
drugs and saved 5 percent on their drug costs relative to those
prescribers who did not use this technology. Of that savings, BCBSMA
members saved approximately $800,000 in co-payments associated with
Seventy-one percent of e-prescribing collaborative
prescribers said e-prescribing saves time for office staff with the
majority saving one to two hours each day, BCBSMA said.
"With the primary care physician shortage, every
additional moment doctors or their staff can dedicate to patients makes
a difference," added Fallon.
Address: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, 401 Park Drive, Boston, MA 02115; (617) 246-5000, www.bluecrossma.com.