More than half of people who write prescriptions are now doing so electronically, representing an eightfold jump from four years ago, a study published this month in The American Journal of Managed Care reveals.
The increase came after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) instituted the Electronic Prescribing (E-Prescribing) Incentive Program in 2009. Using data from the Arlington, Va.-based ePrescribing network provider, Surescripts, the researchers looked at how ePrescribing has risen from December 2008 to 2012.
From that time period, the number of practitioners (doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants) who used ePrescriptions jumped from 7 percent to 54 percent; or 47,000 to 398,000. Furthermore, the share of prescriptions written electronically rose from 4 percent to an estimated 45 percent over the same period, with 86 percent of prescribers using electronic health records (EHRs). On the pharmacy side, 43,000 pharmacies could accept electronic prescriptions, and by December 2012, 59,000 were able to do so.
That CMS program not only incentivized providers with increased payments, but led the launch of grants that helped rural communities close technological gaps in ePrescribing. In 2008, 61 percent of rural pharmacies could take ePrescriptions, compared to 75 percent of urban pharmacies. By 2012, this gap had closed (93 percent of rural and 94 percent of urban pharmacies could take ePrescriptions).
The growth could keep coming for the ePrescribing industry. A study by research firm MarketsandMarkets indicated that the ePrescribing systems market is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26 percent from 2012 to 2017, at which point it is expected to reach $794 million.