e-Rx growth accelerates, and DEA ruling could spur more adoption

Just as predicted at the end of 2008, e-prescribing volume nearly tripled in 2009, according to prescription transaction network Surescripts. And the growth has picked up this year.

Surescripts reports that U.S. prescribers wrote 191 million electronic prescriptions in 2009, up from 68 million a year earlier. That accounts for about 12 percent of all 1.63 billion original prescriptions--not refills--of all scripts written last year. For the first three months of 2010, nearly 20 percent of all new scripts have been filed electronically.

To date, about one-quarter of office-based physicians nationwide have e-prescribing technology, even if they aren't all using it, Surescripts adds, about twice the rate at the end of 2008.

The rapid growth could further accelerate as the Drug Enforcement Administration moves to lift a restriction on e-prescribing of controlled substances. Last month's DEA interim final rule "is what we've all been waiting for," Dr. John Halamka tells the Wall Street Journal. "Now we can write prescriptions for Lipitor and Valium on the same program," adds Halamka, CIO of Boston's CareGroup Healthcare System and an emergency physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

For more information:
- read this Wall Street Journal story, which includes a discussion of the safety benefits of e-prescribing