Despite heavy increases, only 12 percent of prescriptions are electronic

Electronic prescribing continues to grow at an impressive rate, but still only accounted for 12 percent of the 1.63 billion prescriptions written nationwide in 2009, according to the latest statistics from e-prescribing network Surescripts. Still, the 190 million electronic prescriptions Surescripts counted last year is nearly triple the 68 million in 2008, which itself was more than double the 29 million written in 2007.

Surescripts forecasts 2010 volume to approach 300 million e-prescriptions and expects further growth in the future. The Stage 1 regulations for "meaningful use" of EMRs will require physicians and hospitals to write at least 40 percent of their scripts electronically in 2011 and 2012.

More than 200,000 physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners--about one in three office-based prescribers--now use e-prescribing technology at least once a month, Surescripts said at a high-profile Capitol Hill event on Tuesday. That is up from 156,000 at the end of last year and 74,000 in 2008.

The announcement featured appearances by national health IT coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal and by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). Though Whitehouse received Surescripts' "Safe Rx Evangelist Award," his state finished third to Massachusetts and Michigan in the annual rankings of e-prescribing adoption.

According to Surescripts, 32.7 percent of all prescriptions in Massachusetts are electronic, and 57 percent of physicians have adopted the technology. This year, for the first time, Surescripts considered whether prescribers electronically verified patient insurance eligibility and checked medication histories from pharmacies and payers for potential duplications or harmful interactions.

To learn more:
- read this InformationWeek article
- see how Reuters covered this story
- take a look at this Surescripts press release
- view several e-Rx progress reports from Surescripts