Although the use of electronic prescribing has significantly increased in the U.S., e-prescriptions of controlled substances continue to lag, according to Surescripts’ 2013 National Progress Report and Safe-Rx Rankings, the Washington Business Journal‘s “Biz Beat” reports (Reed, “Biz Beat,” Washington Business Journal, 5/21).
Surescripts’ annual report is a national measure of each state’s progress in the adoption and use of electronic prescribing.
According to a Surescripts release, the rankings “recognize the full utilization of electronic prescribing” based on:
- Medication history;
- Routing transactions; and
- Volume of prescription benefits (Surescripts release, 5/21).
Background on Surescripts Network
Overall, the Surescripts network connects to 566,000 prescribers, including:
- More than 400 health care providers;
- More than 600 EHR systems;
- 43 state immunization registries;
- More than 40 of the largest U.S. pharmacy benefit managers; and
- 21 health information exchanges and health information service providers (Washington Business Journal, 5/21).
Surescripts in 2013 electronically routed more than one billion prescriptions, up from 788 million in 2012 and 570 million in 2011.
Fifty-eight percent of all eligible prescriptions in the U.S. were electronically prescribed in 2013, according to the report (Surescripts release, 5/21).
In addition, 73% office-based physicians sent e-prescriptions in 2013, a 4% increase from 2012 (“Biz Beat,” Washington Business Journal, 5/21).
The report also found that:
- About 700 million electronic medication history records were delivered in 2013, a 19% increase from 2012;
- Independent pharmacies’ adoption of e-prescriptions increased by 11% between 2011 and 2013;
- Chain pharmacies’ adoption of e-prescriptions remained constant at 98%; and
- 40% of pharmacies in 2013 received Surescripts certification to enable e-prescription of controlled substances (Surescripts release, 5/21).
Low E-Prescribing of Controlled Substances
However, Paul Uhrig — acting CEO, chief administrative officer and chief privacy officer of Surescripts — said that e-prescriptions for controlled substances lagged behind those for other drugs, even though such medications make up about 13% of the prescription market.
Uhrig noted that the lag might be caused by a federal law that until four years ago prohibited e-prescriptions for controlled substances because of potential for misuse. He said that although those rules have been changed, it has “taken some time for … states to align their laws with the federal law” (Washington Business Journal, 5/21).
Across all states, at least 45% of eligible prescriptions were electronically routed, according the Surescripts release.
Delaware had the highest rate of e-prescribing, with 81% of physicians in the state routing about 3.8 million e-prescriptions in 2013 (Surescripts release, 5/21).
The other top five e-prescribing states in 2013 include:
- Minnesota, with 89% of eligible prescriptions routed electronically;
- Vermont, with 72% of eligible prescriptions routed electronically;
- Wisconsin, with 83% of eligible prescriptions routed electronically; and
- Massachusetts, with 77% of eligible prescriptions routed electronically.
The states with the lowest levels of e-prescribing in 2013 were:
- Alaska, which electronically routed 48% of eligible prescriptions;
- Washington, D.C., which electronically routed 48% of eligible prescriptions;
- Nevada, which electronically routed 47% of eligible prescriptions;
- California, which electronically routed 48% of eligible prescriptions; and
- Colorado, which electronically routed 51% of eligible prescriptions (Surescripts SafeRx Rankings report, May 2014).