1 In 5 Prescriptions Made Electronically - InformationWeek

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Healthcare // Electronic Health Records
09:57 AM

1 In 5 Prescriptions Made Electronically

The use of digitized prescriptions written by healthcare providers grew 181 percent in a one-year period, study shows.

As the healthcare industry continues to wean itself off of paper-based transactions, a report shows there were 191 million e-prescriptions in 2009, up from 68 million in 2008, a 181 percent increase.

The report, published by Surescripts LLC, an Alexandria, Va.-based company that operates an electronic prescribing and eHealth network, also said that at the end of 2009, approximately 18 percent of eligible prescriptions were prescribed electronically compared with 6.6 percent in 2008.

The number of prescribers routing prescriptions electronically also increased from 74,000 at the end of 2008 to 156,000 in 2009, or approximately 25 percent of all office-based prescribers.

The approximate breakdown of prescribers includes 130,600 physicians, 13,700 nurse practitioners and 8,400 physician assistants.

The use of digitized prescriptions coincides with increasing adoption rates among pharmacies to accept electronic prescriptions.

In 2009 approximately 85 percent of community pharmacies were connected for prescription routing and six of the largest mail order pharmacies received prescriptions electronically.

By electronically exchanging prescription information, e-prescriptions help doctors improve accuracy while saving time. Routing prescriptions between prescribers and pharmacies, through the use of computers or handheld devices, reduces pharmacy phone calls and faxes related to renewal authorizations. The need for pharmacy staff to key in prescription data is also reduced.

An added benefit for doctors, the report said, is access to their patients' prescription history which allows them to retrieve information on current and past prescriptions.

The number of prescription histories delivered to prescribers electronically grew more than five-fold from 16 million in 2008 to 81 million in 2009.

The number of times prescribers accessed a patient's prescription benefit information was also on the rise last year. Prescription benefit information allows doctors to choose medications that are covered by the patient's drug benefit, and depending on the information, gives doctors the chance to choose cheaper alternatives such as generic drugs.

Electronic requests for prescription benefit information grew from 79 million in 2008 to 303 million in 2009, a 284 percent increase, the report said.

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