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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology and Quality

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Is there help available for the financing of e-prescribing systems?

There are a variety of state and local subsidy programs available for providers to obtain help with e-prescribing. These programs may be operated by the state, insurers within the states, and other organizations, such as hospital chains. 

For example, in 2003 Florida Medicaid, with the support and approval of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), entered into a partnership to launch the wireless eMPOWERx system to 1,000 of the highest prescribing Florida Medicaid physicians. Since implementing eMPOWERx, Florida Medicaid has achieved a significant improvement in severe drug interactions, a major cost savings, and a reduction in fraud. Consequently, Florida has already approved expansion of the system from 1,000 to 3,000 physicians, which represents physicians writing 80% of all Medicaid prescriptions in Florida - approximately 25 million transactions.

United Healthcare, Aetna, and many Blue Cross Blue Shield plans also offer providers assistance to implement e-prescribing programs. This does vary by state, so it is necessary to check with the insurers in the state where the practice site is located. These programs may be pay-for-performance that provides incentives for providers to use e-prescribing, such as that offered by the L.A. Care Health Plan go to exit disclaimer (PDF - 129 KB). The programs may offer access to discounted software and/or hardware, like the Highmark e-prescribing and eHealth Initiative go to exit disclaimer in Pennsylvania.

In 2006, CMS released new rules for the Anti-kickback Statute Safe Harbor and Stark Exception that permitted donor organizations, such as hospitals, to provide health information technology (HIT) to providers who were a member of its medical staff or a group practice affiliated with the institution. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) specifies that the technology must be "deemed to be interoperable if a certifying body recognized by the Secretary has certified the software no more than 12 months prior to the date it is provided to the [physician/recipient]." This has allowed hospital systems to help defray the cost of implementing HIT projects. For example, ProHealth Care in Wisconsin worked with the local independent provider association to help physicians, with more than 70 percent of the practice revenue coming from ProHealth facilities, to purchase the EMR used by the ProHealth System.

The following resource provides additional information on help with the cost of e-prescribing:

Developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration as a resource for health centers and other safety net and ambulatory care providers who are seeking to implement health IT.
Health Information Technology Toolboxes help health centers, safety net providers, and ambulatory care providers with electronic and online resources and technical assistance to improve patient care.  More>
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