E-prescribing up, but challenges persist

More physicians than ever have embraced electronic prescribing, but the road to adoption still has some bumps in it, as indicated by Surescripts' newly released annual National Progress Report and Safe-Rx Rankings.

According to the report, a record 788 million prescriptions (44 percent) were routed electronically in 2012, up from 570 million (36 percent) in 2011. What's more, more than 38,000 physicians (69 percent) used e-prescribing in 2012. Nearly half of all office visits (48 percent) resulted in electronically generated medication history requests, up from 31 percent in 2011.  

Adoption also is widespread across the country. The adoption rate of e-prescribing by physicians was more than 70 percent in 24 states. Delaware led the pack for the first time, with 82 percent of its physicians actively e-prescribing, followed by Minnesota. No state's e-prescribing rate was below 40 percent.

In addition, a whopping 98 percent of chain pharmacies, and 85 percent of independent pharmacies, now have e-prescribing connectivity.

The numbers, however, don't provide a completely rosy picture, as pointed out in an article in HIT Perspectives, which is published by consulting firm Point of Care Partners (POCP). For instance, use of e-prescribing for prescription renewals dropped from 96 million in 2011 to 82 million in 2012, which the article suggests is due to physicians' continued reliance on faxes and paper for renewals and the decision to keep electronics use to a minimum.

The article also speculated that some physicians will never transition to e-prescribing, and recommended that current barriers to e-prescribing--such as the difficulty to e-prescribe controlled substances--be addressed.

To learn more:
- here's the survey (.pdf)
- read the article