Retail Pharmacies Call for Connectivity
The retail pharmacy association says recent government policy will encourage electronic prescribing, but strong pushes could alienate physicians.Mark McClellan, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said CMS will likely require "an initial set of well-established standards" by January 2006, when Medicare begins covering prescription drugs. Although physicians would not be required to use the standards until 2009, McClellan said the move would encourage adoption by making electronic prescribing more attractive. John Coster, vice president of policy and programs at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, expressed cautious optimism about the move, saying that CMS would be able to provide additional incentives to physicians to adopt electronic prescribing, but, he said, "we have to make sure we dont push too hard," and thus alienate physicians. "Weve been preparing our pharmacies for an e-prescribing world," he said, hinting that other participants are less well-prepared. He also said theres much work to do in terms of both workflow and technical standards, but he felt CMS appreciated the scope of the task. Other hurdles include finding ways to get physicians the necessary equipment without running afoul of anti-kickback laws and making sure that an electronic prescription system in general is not used for such commercial purposes as encouraging physicians to favor brand-name drugs or to use mail-order prescription programs (thus bypassing retail pharmacies).
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