E-prescribing continues to grow

More than 1 billion prescriptions were routed electronically in 2013, up from 788 million the previous year, according to Surescripts' annual National Progress Report and Safe-Rx Rankings, published this week.

The nationwide health information network routed 58 percent of the eligible prescriptions, including 73 percent of those written by office-based physicians, according to an announcement.

In addition, last year Surescripts delivered nearly 700 million electronic medication history records, covering two-thirds of the U.S. population, a 19 percent increase over the 2012 total.

Last August, it announced that 19 health information exchanges and other entities were joining the network, which now connects 566,000 prescribers, more than 400 hospitals and health systems, more than 40 pharmacy benefit managers and 21 HIEs and health information service providers (HISPs).

Delaware again topped Surescripts' Safe-Rx Rankings, which measure each state's progress in adopting e-prescribing. Eighty-one percent of Delaware physicians sent 3.8 million electronic prescriptions last year; all the states routed at least 45 percent of them.

Tying federal incentives to Medicare services and to "clear and measurable results" helped boost participation in e-prescribing, a Health Affairs article published last July concluded. Yet implementation costs remain one of the biggest barriers to adoption in ambulatory practices, according to a literature review published last month in Perspectives in Health Information Management.

Sending prescriptions electronically to pharmacists has the potential to save the U.S. healthcare system an estimated $27 billion a year, the Perspectives article pointed out. It potentially can help prevent more than two million adverse drug events a year, 130,000 of them life-threatening.

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