A new report from the Government Accountability Office examines inconsistencies in the technology and reporting requirements for Medicare's electronic prescribing incentive program and the electronic health records meaningful use incentive program.

Both programs require providers to use technology that performs similar e-prescribing functions, the congressional investigatory agency concludes. "However, the EHR Program requires providers to adopt and use certified EHR systems that meet criteria established by HHS, which include electronic prescribing-related capabilities, while the Electronic Prescribing Program does not have a certification requirement."

Consequently, providers are not assured that systems they have bought will meet the Medicare e-prescribing requirements. "Additionally, the two programs have established separate reporting requirements related to electronic prescribing, potentially requiring physicians--the largest and only group of providers eligible to earn incentive payments in both programs--to report to both programs from 2011 through 2014.

To reduce the duplication and reporting burden, GAO recommends that CMS encourage providers in the e-prescribing program adopt certified technology, and expedite work to remove the reporting overlap between the two programs.

The report, "Electronic Prescribing: CMS Should Address Inconsistencies in Its Two Incentive Programs That Encourage the Use of Health Information Technology," is available at gao.gov/products/GAO-11-159.

--Joseph Goedert


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