New Standards in E-Prescribing Protecting Medicare Patients

If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug program, or are planning to enroll, you will be pleased to hear that Medicare has been working on improving their standards when it comes to Part D e-prescribing. New regulations, issued on April 2, 2008 and coming into effect April 1, 2009, are designed to promote clearer communication between your pharmacist, your doctor, and your prescription drug plan sponsor, to save money by offering generic drug alternatives, and to limit your chances of having an adverse reaction to the drug or drugs you are prescribed.

The way the new standards work is by creating four categories of information – or four standards – which will be used consistently in e-prescribing. These categories will work together to protect you.

“Formulary and Benefits”: This first standard will be used to deal with the coverage you are receiving in your chosen Medicare prescription plan. It will let doctors take into account which drugs are covered in your drug plan and look into the possibility of other generic prescription drugs that may be less costly to you.

“Medication History”: The second standard will have doctors, pharmacists, and other health care providers sharing information about the medication you have been, or are currently, taking. By sharing this information, your health care professionals will be able to greatly reduce the chance that you’ll have an adverse reaction to the medication, which might otherwise result from that drug’s reaction with another medication.

“Fill Status Notifications”: In the third standard, doctors or other health care providers will be notified electronically when you pick up your prescription. This also serves to protect you, since it allows your doctor to know if you have been taking your medication and further helps him/her care for your medical needs.

“Provider Identifier”: Finally, the last standard will increase the programs efficiency by requiring providers to use the National Provider Identifier – or NPI – for health care providers in any e-prescribing dealings. What this does is make obsolete the need for pharmacies and medical offices to personally verify the authenticity of prescribers.

With these new standards in place next April, you should notice an increased efficiency and level of safety in e-prescribing. Some changes, we see, are definitely good.

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