DECEMBER 01, 2006

It is widely recognized that electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) systems can reduce medication errors, lower health costs, and enhance patients' adherence to their drug regimen. Nevertheless, at least 9 of 10 physicians have yet to adopt this new technology.

According to the results of a study published recently in Health Affairs, fewer than 10% of the nation's physicians currently use e-prescribing as part of electronic health record systems—a finding that supporters of these systems say "underscores the fact that more must be done to encourage the widespread adoption of e-prescribing by physicians."

Lobbyists for the nation's pharmacy benefit managers blame the patchwork of conflicting state and federal e-prescribing rules for discouraging physicians from adopting this technology. "Congress should act quickly to create a national, uniform e-prescribing standard that will save lives and reduce costs for consumers and payers," officials of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) said in response to the new statistics.

The PCMA officials stated that a national, uniform standard is supported by a wide range of organizations representing >240 million Americans with prescription drug benefits provided through public and private payers, including the US Chamber of Commerce, AARP, the AFL-CIO, and Consumers Union.