News Corner: Increases in Electronic Prescribing and Communication Highlighted in Recent Report

Surescripts recently released its annual National Progress Report, which encompasses over 9.7 billion electronic transactions completed in 2015, including 1.4 billion electronic prescriptions. In addition to discussing advancements and increases in e-prescribing, the report suggests positive trends in electronic provider communication—indicating that interoperability may be on an upward trend across the acute care setting.

E-Prescribing for Controlled Substances

One of the largest increases in e-prescribing noted in the report was seen for controlled substances. From 2014 to 2015, e-prescriptions for these medications soared by more than 600 percent.

What is perhaps most impressive is that these gains were accomplished despite the fact that only 5.7 percent of physicians had the right technology to perform e-prescribing for controlled substances. This number is expected to increase as more states establish mandates for electronic records and transactions—particularly for controlled substances, to help control the impact of the opioid epidemic.

Bright Spots for Clinical Messaging

The report from Surescripts also highlights an increase in clinical messaging between providers—with the number of transmitted messages more than doubling from 2014 to 2015. Beyond supporting a population-health model of care delivery, this shows tangible increases in data sharing and interoperable networks between providers. The ability to share records and information in this way has been shown to benefit patient care, as providers gain access to more complete patient records.

Additionally, information sharing results in fiscal benefits due to a decrease in performing duplicate procedures or tests. Surescripts estimates that the “increased sharing of medication histories saved U.S. hospitals $400 million in 2015.”

Advancing Additional Markets and Areas for Improvement

While the acute care market has continued to evolve and thrive with electronic prescribing and record transmission, there remains a gross lack of connectivity for long-term care. After being excluded from Meaningful Use incentive programs, the long-term care segment is playing catch-up with regard to interoperability and promoting connectivity both between facilities and with acute partners.

The Surescripts report offers hope that as these networks and electronic infrastructures continue to develop in the acute care space, now is the time for other areas to follow suit for improved care across the entire healthcare continuum.

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