E-prescribing growth up 19% in 2014 through the SureScripts network

Connectivity now extends to medication history information; effect of preventing medication fraud and abuse

The SureScripts network, which has been at the forefront of establishing e-prescribing among practitioners and pharmacies, has released its 2014 report, highlighting a growth of 19% in e-prescribing volume over 2013. According to the report, 1.2 billion prescriptions (which SureScripts counts as 67% of new—not refill—prescriptions available to be so prescribed) were transacted in 2014. This occurred with the participation 98% of chain pharmacies, 88% of independent pharmacies and 56% of prescribers. SureScripts is also one of the bright spots in the electronic health record (EHR) environment, where non-interoperability among the hundreds of EHR systems is a painful shortcoming; SureScripts says that it processed e-prescriptions from 700 EHR platforms.

The EHR connectivity allows SureScripts to transmit a rapidly growing number of other transactions, including medication histories, clinical messages and the like; this grew by 1,300% over the past year to 7.4 million messages. Additionally, a subset of e-prescribing, the so-called electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS), grew to 1.67 million prescriptions, which has implications for controlling improper controlled-substances dispensing.

According to SureScripts, the connectivity has important economic benefits for health systems, doctors’ offices and pharmacies: medication history information saved hospitals nearly $2 billion in staff time and avoidance of medication errors. For manufacturers, besides the value of a more comprehensive digitization of pharmaceutical utilization, there are potential benefits in better adherence programs and the ability of patients to obtain prior authorization from pharmacy benefit managers (which gets them on therapy sooner).

SureScripts is owned by CVS Caremark, Express Scripts and Walgreens, and is operated as a neutral services provider.