PCMA: Lessons of Katrina Highlight the Need for E-Prescribing in Medicare
August 29, 2007
(Washington, DC)—In the aftermath of Katrina, America’s pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and other health care leaders relied on electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) technology to provide over 800,000 people with medications once their paper prescription records had been lost. On this second anniversary of Katrina, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) calls on Congress to enact legislation that would guarantee Medicare beneficiaries access to the safety and savings benefits associated with e-prescribing.
When Katrina hit, nearly 40 percent of Gulf Coast evacuees had prescriptions which were lost, left behind, or otherwise destroyed in the disaster. Patients with heart disease, diabetes, and other life-threatening illnesses were dependent on their medications for survival, but paper prescriptions and paper medication history information were no longer available. Fortunately, many patients had access to medication history through electronically prescribed and stored information allowing continuity of care and preventing unnecessary medication errors.
Without the critical medication history information electronic prescribing provided, relief workers would have been forced to play a dangerous guessing game about which medications these victims truly needed. Electronic prescribing technology ensures that patient prescribing history can be shared securely and quickly in the event of a disaster. It also reduces medication errors in the routine setting of everyday life â?? the doctor’s office—where most people get their prescriptions.
By requiring e-prescribing in Medicare, Congress can take a positive lesson learned from Katrina relief efforts and ensure that America’s seniors have access to the safest, most reliable technology in prescribing today.
PCMA is the national association representing America’s pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which administer prescription drug plans for more than 210 million Americans with health coverage provided through Fortune 500 employers, health insurance plans, labor unions, and Medicare Part D.
Charles Coté 202-207-3605