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E-Prescribing Rate Continues to Rise

Daniel Weiss, Senior Editor
Published Online: Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In 2011, more than a third of prescriptions were routed electronically, and more than half of office-based physicians were e-prescribing, a new report finds.

The portion of prescriptions filed electronically continues to increase at a rapid rate, according to a recently released report from Surescripts. By the end of 2011, 36% of all prescriptions were routed electronically, up from 22% at the end of 2010.
 
The report found that at the close of 2011, 58% of office-based physicians were filing at least some of their prescriptions electronically, up from 36% at the end of 2010. Among specialty groups, e-prescribing rates in 2011 were highest among internists (81%, up from 45% in 2010), cardiologists (76%, up from 49% in 2010), and family practitioners (75%, up from 47% in 2010). In all, the number of e-prescriptions grew from 326 million in 2010 to 570 million in 2011, a 75% increase.
 
“Beyond the significant gains in adoption, our research indicates that the longer physicians e-prescribe—the more they e-prescribe,” said Harry Totonis, president and CEO of Surescripts, in a press release.
 
The report also included results of a study of the effect of e-prescribing on medication adherence based on an analysis of 40 million prescription records. It showed that 76.5% of initial prescriptions from physicians who have adopted e-prescribing are picked up by patients, compared with 69.5% of initial prescriptions from physicians who have not adopted it, an increase that has the potential to lead to billions of dollars in health care savings. According to the report, 91% of community pharmacies and 79% of independent pharmacies were connected for e-prescription routing in 2011, up from 76% and 46%, respectively, in 2008.
 
In theory, e-prescribing has the potential to bring benefits to pharmacists, physicians, and patients alike. Pharmacists no longer have to struggle to read physicians’ handwriting and need to make fewer phone calls and send fewer faxes to clarify prescription details. They can also send prescription renewal requests to physicians’ e-prescribing software for review and receive automated electronic renewal responses, making the process more efficient and convenient for all involved. However, some studies have found that e-prescribing fails to reduce common errors and can be undermined by communication lapses between pharmacies and physician e-prescribing software.
 
To download a pdf of the report, click here.
 
Other coverage of e-prescribing:
 
E-prescribing: Improving Pharmacy Efficiency with Emerging & Existing Technology (CE Activity)
 
E-Prescribing: Opportunities for Specialty Pharmacy Efficiencies
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