E-Prescribing Continued To Increase in 2013, Surescripts Report Finds

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).

Report Details

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).

Key Findings

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).

State-Based Findings

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).
Source: iHealthBeat, Wednesday, May 21, 2014
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