It looks like e-prescribing through the use of electronic health records (EHRs) is here to stay with 70% of physicians using the technology and reported in the July 2014 “ONC Data Brief,” issued by The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. That's up from 7%, which was reported in 2008 when the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) was passed.
Physicians aren’t the only professionals who are embracing the technology—the percentage of community pharmacists enabled to accept e-prescriptions grew from 76% to 96%. Nearly all community pharmacies are enabled to accept e-prescriptions in Delaware (99%) and Maine (99%).
The report says that the growth of physicians and pharmacies e-prescribing has corresponded with a thirteen-fold increase in the growth of new and renewal prescriptions sent electronically. In 2008, only 4% of new and renewal prescriptions were sent electronically. In 2013, 57% of new and renewals prescriptions were sent electronically. Minnesota (89%), Wisconsin (83%), and Massachusetts (77%) had the highest rate of new and renewals sent electronically. However, the four states with highest volume of prescriptions -- California, Texas, New York, and Florida—are all below the national average. This presents an opportunity to increase the proportion of new and renewals sent electronically among these states. By April 2014, all states had physicians e-prescribing using an EHR at a rate above 40 percent and 28 states had at least 70 percent of their physicians e-prescribing using an EHR.
The rapid growth might be attributed to two important policies that promoted the use of e-prescribing that were initiated during the time period. The first was MIPPA, which offered financial incentives for providers to facilitate the use of e-prescribing. The second was the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs, or the “meaningful use” program, which was launched in 2011. In order to demonstrate meaningful use, providers must use their EHRs to meet several program objectives, including e-prescribing.
The analysis used data from Surescripts, an e-prescription network used by the majority of all community pharmacies in the United States. The full report is available here