E-prescribing a 'gateway' to improving patient care

The use of electronic prescribing among both prescribers and pharmacies is accelerating as "positive emerging trends", according to a study conducted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and published recently in the American Journal of Managed Care.

The study used data from Sure scripts, an electronic prescribing network. The researchers found that the percentage of individuals electronically prescribing jumped from 7 percent in 2008 to 54 percent in 2012. The vast majority of prescribers (86 percent) were using electronic health record systems for their e-prescribing tasks, while only 14 percent were using stand alone systems.

The percentage of retail pharmacies using e-prescribing increased from 70 percent in 2008 to 94 percent in 2012, a jump that also closed the gap between rural and urban pharmacies.

"Electronic prescribing is proving its potential to create a gateway to the improved patient care that health IT promises," the study's authors said.

The study pointed out that e-prescribing through EHRs improves the availability of pharmacy benefits information and patient medication histories, and also correlates with better patient adherence to medications. It also suggested that using a complete EHR may add additional quality and other benefits.

However, there still are issues with access, resources and connectivity, and the regional extension centers and health information exchanges have helped with overcoming those barriers. The study also acknowledged that the cost of the systems remains a concern.

The findings mirror those from a Sure scripts report published in May that found adoption of electronic prescribing to be widespread, but connectivity to be problematic .

To learn more:
- here's the study