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E-prescribing rises dramatically as providers adopt EHRs

By Jennifer Bresnick

- The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) has released a report detailing the steep increase of e-prescribing among US physicians since 2008.  In December of that year, only 7% of physicians were transmitting prescriptions to pharmacies electronically, while in June of 2012, that figure rose to 48%.  The ONC looked at data provided by the Surescripts e-prescribing network, and found that 23 states had more than half of their physicians prescribing using Surescripts in 2012, representing a 41% increase.

All states showed a double-digit increase in the number of physicians e-prescribing through an EHR, with New Hampshire, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota showing the largest growth throughout the 2008 to 2012 period.  States that had between 1% and 3% rates of e-prescribing in 2008 increased by at least 30 percentage points.

Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Iowa had the highest rates of e-prescribing in 2012, representing between 73% and 77% of practicing physicians.  Not surprisingly, the number of pharmacies able to receive these electronic transmissions has skyrocketed as well.  94% of community pharmacies are able to receive e-prescriptions, and the average per-state rate is 88%.

In 2012, approximately 45% of all new and renewal prescriptions were sent electronically, a ten-fold increase from 2008.  However, the four states with the highest volume of prescriptions, California, Texas, New York, and Florida, are all below the national e-prescribing average.

E-prescribing has been shown to improve patient care, reduce mistakes, control costs, and provide better coordination between providers.  The trend towards increased e-prescribing will likely continue as more and more providers adopt EHR technology with electronic prescribing capabilities.  The challenge of universal electronic prescribing remains ahead of physicians, but the progress is clear and encouraging.

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