Aligning e-prescribing incentives and certified EHR technology is a good move, Sharon F. Canner, senior director of advocacy programs for the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives said in an interview. "With previous legislation they have not been aligned so it's really important that they have done that," she said. "We hope that CMS will continue to move down this path in harmonizing across Health IT related programs—big underline under harmonization."
Despite the fact that the changes will give some providers a reprieve, CMS is touting the more flexible rules as a way to encourage more providers to adopt the technology and to make it easier for them to do so successfully.
"In particular, the changes will better recognize those circumstances when the ability of professionals to meet the eRx requirements is limited and when the requirements clearly pose a significant hardship," Conway wrote.
"We remain committed to the many benefits that come to patients with successful electronic prescribing, and we continue to encourage healthcare professionals to adopt this practice. However, we also can appreciate and acknowledge that this technology poses challenges to some providers. Changes in the final rule will help doctors and other healthcare providers in their efforts to become successful e-prescribers, ultimately leading to fewer errors and better care for patients."
In another attempt to make it easier for providers to apply for exemptions, CMS added an online tool to its site. Physician practices, however, still have to submit a written letter.