Surescripts: Health data transactions outnumber American Express, PayPal

Electronic prescribing continues to gain ground in the U.S., with Surescripts processing 6.5 billion healthcare data transactions in 2014, according to its 2014 progress report.

The report, released May 19, states that Surescripts connected 900,000 healthcare professionals, 61,000 pharmacies, 3,300 hospitals, 700 EHR software applications, 45 immunization registries and 32 state and regional networks in 2014, with access to health information for 230 million patients representing 71 percent of the U.S. population. Fifty-six percent of physicians and 95 percent of pharmacies processed 1.2 billion electronic prescriptions (67 percent of all new prescriptions) on the Surescripts network. Data sharing also included 764 million medication history transactions and 7.4 million clinical messages.

The 6.5 billion number tops transactions handled by American Express (6 billion) and PayPal (4.2 billion) according to a Surescripts announcement.

"A seamless, connected healthcare experience is an increasing expectation for patients and providers. Interoperability between providers is a critical step in creating a more efficient and quality-driven healthcare system," the report said. "With more than half of all prescriptions routed electronically, we're moving from adoption to optimization."

The report also pointed out an increase in electronic prescribing of controlled substances, which can improve care, reduce fraud and identify potential abuse of drugs such as opioids. Electronic prescribing of controlled substances increased 400 percent in 2014, but still represented only a "small fraction" of the number of prescriptions of controlled substances. Only 1.4 percent of providers currently are able to prescribe controlled substances, even though it's now legal in 49 states and the District of Columbia, and 73 percent of pharmacies are ready to accept them. The top five states electronically prescribing controlled substances are Nebraska, California, Michigan, Massachusetts and Delaware.

Other studies have mirrored the findings that electronic prescribing has been growing steadily. New York, the first state to mandate e-prescribing in large part to combat prescribing abuse, recently delayed the start date of the requirement from March 2015 to March 2016 due to concerns that physicians were not yet able to comply.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement
- read the report