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

July 10, 2008

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.”

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