2011 was a challenging year for healthcare IT professionals. Providers rolled out electronic health record systems to qualify for the government's Meaningful Use financial incentives. Meanwhile, mobile health apps took off, e-prescribing increased, health info exchanges got a start, and some organizations suffered data breaches. On the plus side, more health IT jobs became available.
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More than half of U.S. physicians now prescribe electronically, according to the latest statistics from Surescripts, the largest network connecting physician offices to pharmacies in this country.
As of September, 52% of office-based doctors--totaling 291,000 physicians--were sending prescriptions online to pharmacies, compared to fewer than 10% just three years ago.
Overall, there are now 357,000 e-prescribers on the Surescripts network, including doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. Ninety-four retail pharmacies nationwide are using the network to receive electronic prescriptions.
But despite e-prescribing's growing popularity, there are bumps in the road. One surprising finding of a 2011 study conducted by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) and sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) was that although e-prescription renewals saved physicians time, they sometimes posed bigger routing problems than new prescriptions did. One reason is that a quarter of the participating community pharmacies surveyed didn't send electronic renewal authorization requests. Similarly, a third of physician practices weren't set up to receive e-renewal requests or received them infrequently. So for 2012, there's room for more growth and improvements in e-prescribing.