Healthcare News & Insights

Small practices jumping on board with e-prescribing

While some reports suggest e-prescribing is slow to catch on among healthcare organizations, that doesn’t mean it’s going completely unused. And small physician practices are leading the charge on eRx adoption, according to a recent report. 

Although health IT is often adopted by larger hospitals and other big organizations first, e-prescribing is growing most quickly among small practices, according to a recent study from e-prescribing network Surescripts.

Currently, 58% of physician practices are using electronic prescriptions according to Surecripts’ “National Progress Report on e-Prescribing and Interoperable Health Care.” And the highest adoption rates and the largest growth compared to the previous year were seen in practices with 10 or fewer doctors, with solo practices experiencing the largest growth of all.

Among solo practices, 46% were using e-prescribing systems, up from 31% the year before. Adoption rose from 44% to 55% for practices with six to 10 doctors, and from 42% to 53% for two- to five-physician practices.

Among larger practices, 46% of those with 11 to 25 physicians are e-prescribing (up from 34%), as are 35% of those with 25 to 100 physicians (31%), and 27% of practices with 100 or more (22%).

The rise in e-prescribing use can be partially attributed to a Medicare incentive program aimed at getting physicians to adopt eRx systems, according to the report. Doctors that were writing prescriptions electronically first began receiving incentive payments in 2009. This year, the incentive payments will shift to a penalty for physicians that aren’t using the technology.

Beyond that push from the federal government, e-prescribing has benefits for healthcare organizations and their patients. Some recent studies have shown that e-prescribing systems can help prevent dangerous and costly prescription errors, including:

  1. A 2010 study from Weill Cornell Medical College, which found a whopping 37 errors out of 100 paper prescriptions written, compared to 7 per 100 electronic prescriptions, and
  2. A study from earlier this year that found patients were more likely to pick up medication when prescriptions were sent electronically.

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