e-prescribing may be at tipping point

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Friday, September 28, 2018

WASHINGTON – There are a number of puzzle pieces locking together at CMS that could mean e-prescribing for DME becomes pervasive soon, the vendors of that technology say.

In July, the agency’s Office of Grants Management disclosed that it had awarded a multi-million dollar contract to MITRE, a private nonprofit corporation that operates federally funded research and development centers or FFRDCs, to conduct a feasibility analysis on e-prescribing for DME.

“(MITRE) seems to be bullish,” said David Gelbard, founder and CEO of Parachute Health. “They were very positive about e-prescribing for DME being able to take off and being viable.”

In recent months, e-prescribing vendors, including Parachute Health and DMEhub, which is owned by Apria Healthcare, have been providing demos and having conversations with CMS and MITRE about their platforms.

Following the award of the contract to MITRE, CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced plans to make doctor offices a “fax free zone” by 2020, and vendors bet the agency will use DME for a pilot project toward this broader goal.

“When piecing these two developments together, it definitely showcases the direction that CMS is heading,” Gelbard said. “DME seems to be a continuous category of experimentation, so it wouldn’t shock me if CMS would use DME as the 1st category to eliminate faxing between providers and try to understand the results.”

Vendors also bet CMS rolls out e-prescribing for DME much like the agency did for e-prescribing for prescription drugs—using a time-based mandate.

“This is not something that’s if, but when,” Gelbard said. “We’re already seeing some large health system partners and other innovative providers calling us and trying to get ahead of this.”

With CMS appearing to step on the gas on e-prescribing for DME, the conversation has turned from reactive to proactive, vendors say.

“CMS’s reaction to the direction this is going in is one of openness,” said Ken Hodel, director of product management for Apria. “They feel there is an opportunity in DME to move away from the fax and to help qualify orders electronically.”