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E-Prescribing Use Continues To Grow

About 190 million prescriptions were sent electronically in 2009 and that's expected to increase to 300 million in 2010, according to Surescripts.

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The use of e-prescribing nearly tripled last year, but still only accounts for the minority of prescription transactions in the U.S., according to a new report.

In 2009, of the 1.63 billion prescriptions written in the U.S., 190 million prescriptions -- or 12% -- took place electronically, according to the results of an annual audit of e-prescribing usage conducted by Surescripts, which operates the largest e-prescribing network in the U.S Still, the total e-prescriptions in 2009 climbed significantly from the 68 million and 29 million, respectively, that took place in 2008 and 2007.

Approximately 200,000 U.S. clinicians, or about 1-in-3 office-based physician, nurse practitioner, and physician assistant in the U.S., used e-prescribing at least once a month last year, according to Surescripts.

With the federal government's push for the adoption and meaningful use of health IT, Surescripts projects that e-prescriptions will grow to 300 million in 2010, said a spokesman.

The U.S. Health and Humans Services Department's "stage one" meaningful use criteria--for which healthcare providers can become eligible for financial rewards -- includes several objectives that are supported by e-prescribing systems.

Those objectives include maintaining active patient medication lists; generating and transmitting permissible prescription electronically; implementing drug formulary checks; and performing medication reconciliation between care settings

In addition to evaluating usage of e-prescribing systems to transmit patient drug orders to pharmacies, Surescript's audit this year also for the first time evaluated usage of two important e-prescription functionalities -- confirming patient's prescription insurance eligibility prior to sending the order and electronically cross referencing patient's medication history with pharmacies and payers.

With those new audit measures in mind, Surescripts also ranked e-prescription usage in each state. Massachusetts ranked first among states in e-prescribing, with 11 million prescriptions sent electronically by Bay State clinicians in 2009, representing about 32.3% of all prescriptions that were processed in the state.

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