July 10, 2008

CompTIA Says Senate Passage of E-Prescription Proposal is a Needed Shot in the Arm for U.S. Healthcare

The following statement may be attributed to Roger Cochetti, Group Director of U.S. Public Policy for the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA):

"Yesterday, the Senate completed passage of H.R. 6331 (the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act) - a bill which, among other things, gives U.S. doctors incentives to adopt e-prescription tools. The e-prescribe provisions within the bill represent an important shot in the arm for U.S. healthcare, promoting life-saving technologies, and paving the way from broader health information technology (HIT) implementation for Americans.

"This year, only 2% of the nearly 1.5 billion prescriptions sent to pharmacies will get transmitted electronically. Handwritten prescriptions - the standard for centuries for doctors - present a seemingly small yet formidable obstacle to better, less costly healthcare in America. Through e-prescribe and HIT, life threatening situations - such as application of the wrong medicines, improper dosing instructions of those medicines, and lack of instantaneous cross-reference to harmful drug interactions and/or reactions - can be minimized or eliminated altogether. Moreover, opportunities for theft and abuse of handwritten prescriptions diminish greatly when e-prescribe gets employed.

"Though e-prescription tools and HIT promise to reduce these risks and errors, while saving costs - estimated by some to potentially reach more than $20 billion per year - sadly, recent figures show that fewer than 15% of America's health providers have embraced even basic forms of HIT, such as electronic health records (EHR). The problem is especially acute for truly small providers, who represent approximately 50% of the non-hospital-provided health services in America, yet some estimates show were up to three-times less likely than large groups (50 or more doctors) to have even basic EHR in their practices.

"Among other factors, cost represents a major stumbling block to the adoption of e-prescribe and HIT. H.R. 6331 seeks to address this by incentivizing doctors for every e-prescription they make.

"For the bulk of our membership - our so-called Valued-Added-Resellers (VARs) - healthcare matters top their list of policy concerns. They want good healthcare at affordable rates, while also recognizing that the U.S. healthcare industry is an important growth opportunity. To them, e-prescribe tools and HIT allow VARs to address these seemingly disparate notions - the technology shows immense promise to improve the costs and healthcare services they provide to their employees; and, because many VARs service small healthcare providers, getting more HIT into these practices means more business. E-prescribe and HIT gives them a win-win.

"CompTIA congratulates the Senate for passing the e-prescribe provisions of H.R. 6331. Its passage shows that policymakers see that e-prescribe and HIT play an integral role in making U.S. healthcare healthier for us all."