More doctors prefer pixels to prescription pads

By John Pulley

November 28, 2012

E-prescribing has gone mainstream.

According to federal officials, almost half of all physicians prescribe drugs electronically through an electronic health record. That’s a 41 percent increase since December 2008, according to a report released this week by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

States with the highest rates of increases include New Hampshire, where the rate went from 5 percent in 2008 to 74 percent in June 2012, and Iowa, where e-prescribing rates rose from 7 percent to 73 percent.

States with the lowest e-prescribing rates are Alaska, at 32 percent; Nevada, at 37 percent; and New Jersey and Wyoming, each at 38 percent.

Overall, 23 states had e-prescribing rates above 50 percent, ONC reported. The percentage of community pharmacies that are capable of filling e-prescriptions grew from 76 percent to 94 percent.

The analysis looked at prescriptions sent through EHRs that use the Surescripts network.

In a post on ONC’s Health IT Buzz blog, the report’s authors said the significant increase in e-prescribing could be credited in part to the State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program that promotes pharmacies’ participation.

They further cited technical assistance from ONC’s 62 regional extension centers that assist small physician practices that adopt EHRs, as well as the growing number of providers that meet federal guidelines for demonstrating meaningful use of e-records.

By John Pulley

November 28, 2012