Rhode Island tracking H1N1 outbreaks with e-prescribing data

The state of Rhode Island says it is the first in the nation to track outbreaks of swine flu from electronic prescribing data. The Rhode Island Department of Health is receiving weekly updates of de-identified prescription information, sent electronically from pharmacies statewide over the Surescripts network, helping epidemiologists to determine if there may be an uptick in prescriptions of Tamiflu and other antiviral drugs.

"This provides another important tool for the state's public health officials to look at trends related to the course, severity and treatment of the H1N1 pandemic," state health director Dr. David R. Gifford said in a statement released by Surescripts and the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Surescripts also announced that the Ocean State is the first to have 100 percent of its retail pharmacies capable of receiving e-scripts. At the end of September, 63 percent of prescribers in Rhode Island were e-prescribing, and 56 percent were e-prescribing through an EMR, according to Surescripts. About 31 percent of scripts were being routed electronically, reflecting the fact that e-prescribing is prohibited for controlled substances and that many patients still prefer paper.

For more about the H1N1 tracking system and other Rhode Island e-prescribing trends:
- click on this WPRI-TV (Providence) story
- read this press release from Surescripts and the Rhode Island Department of Health