Last year the number of electronic prescriptions jumped more than 70% and the number of prescribers routing prescriptions electronically more than doubled, according to a new Surescripts report on e-prescribing.


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E-prescribing 'on its way to becoming mainstream'

May 13th, 2011

ARLINGTON, Va. – Last year the number of electronic prescriptions jumped more than 70% and the number of prescribers routing prescriptions electronically more than doubled, according to a new Surescripts report on e-prescribing.

The e-prescription and health information network provider said Thursday that the number of electronic prescriptions swelled to 326 million in 2010 from 190 million in 2009, a rise of nearly 72%. And by the end of last year, roughly 25% of eligible scripts were prescribed electronically.

Meanwhile, the number of prescribers routing prescriptions electronically surged from 74,000 at the end of 2008 to 234,000 by the end of 2010, accounting for 34% of all office-based prescribers and 36% of office-based physicians, Surescripts reported.

According to the company, e-prescribing adoption rates are highest among cardiologists (49%) and family practitioners (47%). In terms of practice size, adoption rates are highest among practices with five to 10 doctors (44%) and two to five physicians (42%).

Surescripts' study, "The National Progress Report on E-Prescribing and Interoperable Healthcare," also found that at the close of 2010, about 91% of community pharmacies and six of the nation's largest mail-order pharmacies were able to receive prescriptions electronically.

In addition, approximately twice as many patient visits to doctors' offices included the opportunity for physicians to access a patient's prescription benefit information and medication history in order to prescribe safer, lower-cost prescriptions, according to the report, which measured the growth of e-prescribing from 2008 — before the advent of federal incentives — through 2010.

According to Harry Totonis, president and chief executive officer of Surescripts, the report indicates that e-prescribing "is now well on its way to becoming mainstream practice."

"The vision that pharmacies and PBMs had over 10 years ago — replacing phone-, fax- and paper-based prescribing with e-prescribing — is being realized today through improved medication management, increased patient convenience and reduced costs for all," Totonis stated. "What's more, the factors behind the growth in e-prescribing are serving as a model for broader adoption and use of health IT. E-prescribing has grown based on the unprecedented collaboration between the public and private sectors and the realization of tangible benefits by all participants."

Other key findings of the report highlight the surge in adoption of health information technology, notably in the area of electronic medical records (EMRs). Prescription histories delivered to prescribers soared 184% from 81 million in 2009 to 230 million in 2010, while electronic responses to requests for prescription benefit information grew 125% from 188 million in 2009 to 423 million in 2010. Also, about 79% of prescribers used EMRs in 2010, up from 70% in 2009.

Surescripts added that as of the end of last year, it could provide access to prescription benefit and history information for more than 66% of U.S. patients.

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