Electronic Prescriptions Up, but Not Prescribers

Ken Terry

May 21, 2015

The number of electronic prescriptions continues to increase, but the number of physicians and other prescribers writing them has leveled off, according to the latest data from Surescripts, the company that most often connects pharmacies to physician offices.

Last year, Surescripts said, 56% of physicians and 95% of pharmacies processed 1.2 billion electronic prescriptions, or 67% of all new prescriptions, over its network. In 2013, Surescripts handled 1.04 billion e-prescriptions, or 58% of new prescriptions.

The percentage of e-prescribers rose only 1%, going from 55% to 56%, in 2014. So physicians appear to be sending more of their prescriptions electronically, but the sizable percentage of physicians who do not e-prescribe is not decreasing.

Of the 61,000 drugstores connected to Surescripts, roughly 40,000 are chain pharmacies, and the rest are independent retailers. The percentage of independent stores in the Surescripts network remained at 88% from 2013 to 2014.

Electronic prescribing of controlled substances increased significantly last year, but is still at a fairly low level. There were about 1.67 million electronic prescriptions of controlled substances in 2014 compared with 340,000 in 2013. The highest percentages of prescribers enabled to write these prescriptions were in Michigan (9%), California (8.6%), and Nebraska (8.1%). Overall, just 1.4% of providers were able to prescribe these medications.

New York State has passed a law requiring all prescriptions to be electronic, including those of controlled substances, but the effective date of the legislation has been postponed for a year. At this time, only 1.8% of New York prescribers are ready to prescribe these drugs.

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