- Seventy percent of providers nationwide are now using electronic prescribing capabilities through their EHRs, according to new data from the Office of the National Coordinator, representing a ten-fold increase since December of 2008. The number of community pharmacies accepting e-prescriptions has also risen significantly, increasing from 76% to 96% over the same period, producing a thirteen-fold growth in the number of new and renewal prescriptions sent electronically.
In 2008, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) went into effect, offering financial incentives for providers to adopt e-prescribing, explain Meghan Hufstader Gabriel, PhD and Matthew Swain, MPH, of the ONC. E-prescribing is also an objective in meaningful use, which has further accelerated the use of networks like Surescripts, from which the data is drawn.
In December of 2008, every state except for Massachusetts had an e-prescribing rate below 20 percent, but by April of 2014, all states were above 40 percent and 28 states had at least 70% of their physicians using electronic prescriptions. However, the four states that issue the most prescriptions, California, New York, Texas, and Florida, are all below the national average, sitting between 48% and 55% as of April. Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts had the highest rates of new and renewal prescriptions sent electronically in 2013.
States with the highest growth rate in the percentage of physicians adopting e-prescribing include Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. Other states that had little or no e-prescribing in 2008, such as Hawaii, Utah, and Louisiana, increased at least 58 percentage points over the study period.
The brief adds to encouraging data from Surescripts earlier in the year. The widely-uses prescribing network reported a 32% growth in the number of prescriptions shuttled across the system in 2013, enabling the delivery of more than one billion prescriptions across an increasingly intricate network. “Just as we’ve witnessed continued growth in e-prescribing over the past 13 years, so too have we seen the complexity of the healthcare system multiply,” said Paul Uhrig, Acting CEO of Surescripts.
E-prescribing levels are likely to increase even further as EHR adoption reaches the saturation point. With more than 90% of community pharmacies able to accept electronic prescriptions and upcoming financial penalties related to meaningful use likely to spur some stragglers to adopt the principles of the program, e-prescribing will no doubt cement its place on the top of the list of most successful health information exchange initiatives.