February 17, 2015
Doctors See Costs, Henry Schein Sees Opportunities in e-Prescription Law
By KEN SCHACHTER
Many Long Island doctors and dentists are heaving sighs of relief at legislative action to grant a one-year delay in the looming March 27 deadline to comply with New York State's first-in-the-nation e-prescription mandate.
Meanwhile, Melville-based Henry Schein Inc., the Island's largest public company by revenue, sees the no-paper law as an opportunity to boost sales of its practice-management software, which includes an e-prescription module.
The state Senate last week approved a bill to delay implementing the e-prescribing rules after a statewide coalition of doctors and dentists petitioned lawmakers to take action. State Sen. Kemp Hannon, chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Health, said the Assembly is expected to approve a companion bill later this month.
Hannon, a Garden City Republican, said that some software vendors failed to provide updates in time for medical practitioners to install and integrate them.
"It became obvious that the software vendors were not going to be able to deliver the goods," he said.
Officials at North Shore-LIJ Health System, New York State's largest employer, acknowledged that despite the outlay of "millions" of dollars to implement and integrate e-prescription systems, parts of the sprawling health care giant would be unable to meet the March 27 deadline.
Dr. Michael Oppenheim, chief medical information officer for Manhasset-based North Shore-LIJ, cited a variety of complicating factors: the high standard of security required for e-prescriptions of controlled substances; the lack of urgency on the part of national software vendors to comply with a New York-only mandate, and North Shore-LIJ units that have yet to computerize records or run software that differs from the standard used in the rest of the system.
The clock to begin preparing for the e-prescription mandate began ticking on March 27, 2012, when the state Legislature passed I-STOP, the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act, a law designed to curb abuse of drugs like oxycodone.
"Even with a year delay, we'll have plenty to do," Oppenheim said. "Hopefully, government will understand the realities."
The petition, signed by more than 20 organizations, including the Medical Society of the State of New York and the New York State Dental Association, cited the delays in certifying several major software vendors in New York State for prescribing controlled substances.
Huntington dentist Eugene Antenucci said he has been using software that generates paper prescriptions, and only recently did his provider offer an electronic prescription update.
"Someday this will be normal routine, but right now this transition won't be easy," he said.
Steve Klis, president of Henry Schein's global practice solutions business, said the mandate offered the opportunity to insert its practice-management software, including an e-prescription module, into the offices of new clients.
"This becomes a compelling reason" to adopt software, he said, though many practitioners already have systems in place.Dr. Andrew Kleinman, president of the Medical Society of the State of New York, said there are more than 100,000 licensed physicians in the state, including some semiretired doctors for whom installing practice software would represent a "substantial cost."