Recently, my father attempted to relive his glory days on the football field with unfortunate results. While attempting to imitate some of the great wide receivers of his day, he ruptured his Achilles tendon and required surgery. I accompanied him to one of his follow up visits to his doctor’s office and was surprised to see the level of technology the doctor used when treating patients. In prior posts, Maryland medication error attorneys have extolled the virtues of computerized prescription programs, but I was still surprised to see how efficient those systems are when used in the day to day operation of a busy doctor’s office.
The doctor who treated my father asked him a series of questions about how the surgical site was healing, his pain, and any other prescriptions he was taking, and examined my father’s range of motion. The doctor entered all of that information into a computer terminal in the examination room and returned, within minutes, with a print out that contained my father’s prescription. Additionally, the doctor’s office electronically sent the prescription ahead to a local pharmacy.
Last month, Medicare and certain private health care plans began paying doctors bonuses for using similar E-prescription software. The private health care plans provide doctors with extra payments for services along with free equipment, such as PDA’s, if they use computerized prescription software. Medicare’s bonus amounts to 2% of charges billed to Medicare for 2009 and 2010. This translates into approximately $1,700 to $3,500 a year per doctor. As a result of the new incentives, the number of doctors using E-prescription programs has doubled over the past year and, nationwide, nearly 70,000 doctors use these programs.
Electronic prescription programs not only reduce the risk of medication errors, but they also help lower patients’ health care costs by suggesting low cost generic alternatives to expensive name brand medications. In a recent study, researchers at a hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin discovered that E-prescription software saved patients a substantial amount of money by allowing more doctors to prescribe safe generic prescriptions.
Additionally, by reducing the time a patient has to wait in a pharmacy to receive a prescription, E-prescription programs ensures that more Americans will fill the prescriptions their doctor’s prescribe. Fortunately, nearly all big box pharmacies and many independent pharmacies accept electronic prescriptions. This allows doctors, like my fathers, to forward prescriptions ahead of the patient and reduce the amount of time a sick or injured patient has to wait in a pharmacy waiting area.
Under the stimulus package, the government plans to invest $ 50 billion dollars over the next five years in technological advancements in health care. The Maryland medication error attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC will carefully watch these advancements as they arise in the future.