HIMSS: Reluctant prescribers are the biggest barrier to e-prescribing adoption

After the DEA officially lifted the restrictions against the use of electronic prescribing for controlled substances in June, it eliminated the single greatest barrier to e-prescribing in a decade.

The next obstacle may be the prescribers themselves, according to a HIMSS survey of healthcare IT professionals. Nearly three in 10 (29 percent) of those surveyed said the biggest barrier to implementing e-prescribing technology in healthcare organizations is prescribers' unwillingness to integrate the e-prescribing technology into their work processes. One-quarter of those surveyed said the cost of the technology is an obstacle.

Another study from the Center for Studying Health System Change backs up this finding that physicians and other authorized prescribers are holding up wider use of the technology. Though more than 40 percent of office-based physicians had access to e-prescribing systems in 2008--the year before Medicare started paying modest bonuses for e-prescribing--a quarter of those who could write electronic prescriptions seldom or never did, HSC says.

And only about 60 percent of those with e-prescribing systems had access to at least three of the advanced features required by Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs. Less than one-fourth of this group regularly used such features as checking for potential drug interactions, viewing patient formularies and electronically transmitting orders to pharmacies, according to the study.

In the HIMSS survey, nearly all 483 respondents said that clinicians should be allowed to e-prescribe controlled substances and 45 percent said they thought improved workflow would be the biggest benefit of allowing clinicians to prescribe controlled substances using e-prescribing technology. Another third said better patient safety would be an advantage.

A little over half (55 percent) of those surveyed said that the March 2010 interim final rule that addresses e-prescribing for controlled substances will lead to a slight increase in the use of e-prescribing. Another third believe that it will lead to a significant uptick in e-prescriptions.

Forty percent of respondents said that their organizations are using e-prescribing technology.

To learn more:
- see the HIMSS survey
- read this statement from the American Pharmacists Association
- take a look at this Center for Studying Health System Change issue brief
- see this GE Healthcare press release about approval of its e-prescribing system in Ohio, the only state currently requiring two-factor authentication

Neil Versel contributed to this story

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