R.Ph.s support e-prescribing rules but see roadblocks to implementation

NACDS and NCPA respond to new CMS rules on e-prescribing.

The pharmacy community believes that the new rules are a step in the right direction. But there are some pharmacists who say that there are still lots of obstacles to overcome before e-prescribing replaces the traditional paper-based prescription as the new standard. Currently, more than 40,000 pharmacies have e-prescription technology in place, but only about 2% of physicians are writing prescriptions electronically.

Voicing concerns

Regarding the national provider identifier, NACDS believes that there should be allowances for an alternative identifier for prescribers without an NPI. In terms of the compliance date, NACDS said the industry is already using SCRIPT version 8.1, so there should be no issues with the proposed implementation date. The association has asked CMS to recognize the National Council of Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) SCRIPT Standard version 10.5 as a future standard to be implemented by 2010.

A work in progress

"You're moving in the right direction with the CMS rules," said Charles Sewell, VP of government affairs for the National Community Pharmacists Association. However, "I don't think it's going to make e-prescribing more universal out there in the marketplace." Sewell noted that with e-prescribing, there is a cost associated with it based on every transaction, "and that can be fairly significant. What they are discussing in Congress right now is paying for the doctors' participation. We think that it takes two to make this equation work, both the doctor and the pharmacist. They should be considering some kind of grant or tax credit to cover the transaction cost that pharmacies alone are having to pay for e-prescribing."

Summing up, Sewell said, "We have a long way to go to make e-prescribing the method of choice in getting our prescriptions. It's a work in progress."

THE AUTHOR is a writer based in New Jersey.