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Electronic Prescribing: Improving the Efficiency and Accuracy of Prescribing in the Ambulatory Care Setting

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Abstract

Electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) is an important part of the nation's push to enhance the safety and quality of the prescribing process. E-prescribing allows providers in the ambulatory care setting to send prescriptions electronically to the pharmacy and can be a stand-alone system or part of an integrated electronic health record system. The methodology for this study followed the basic principles of a systematic review. A total of 47 sources were referenced. Results of this research study suggest that e-prescribing reduces prescribing errors, increases efficiency, and helps to save on healthcare costs. Medication errors have been reduced to as little as a seventh of their previous level, and cost savings due to improved patient outcomes and decreased patient visits are estimated to be between $140 billion and $240 billion over 10 years for practices that implement e-prescribing. However, there have been significant barriers to implementation including cost, lack of provider support, patient privacy, system errors, and legal issues.
Electronic Prescribing: Improving the Efficiency and Accuracy of Prescribing in the Ambulatory Care Setting
Electronic Prescribing: Improving the
Efficiency and Accuracy of Prescribing in the
Ambulatory Care Setting
by Amber Porterfield, MS; Kate Engelbert, MS; and Alberto Coustasse, DrPH, MD, MBA
Abstract
Electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) is an important part of the nation’s push to enhance the safety
and quality of the prescribing process. E-prescribing allows providers in the ambulatory care setting to
send prescriptions electronically to the pharmacy and can be a stand-alone system or part of an integrated
electronic health record system. The methodology for this study followed the basic principles of a
systematic review. A total of 47 sources were referenced. Results of this research study suggest that e-
prescribing reduces prescribing errors, increases efficiency, and helps to save on healthcare costs.
Medication errors have been reduced to as little as a seventh of their previous level, and cost savings due
to improved patient outcomes and decreased patient visits are estimated to be between $140 billion and
$240 billion over 10 years for practices that implement e-prescribing. However, there have been
significant barriers to implementation including cost, lack of provider support, patient privacy, system
errors, and legal issues.
Keywords: electronic prescribing, cost, benefits, barriers to implementation, safety
Introduction
Electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) is an important part of the United States’ push to enhance the
safety and quality of the prescribing process.1 E-prescribing has been defined as the computer-based
electronic generation, transmission, and filling of a prescription, taking the place of paper and faxed
prescriptions.2 Most prescribing occurs in the outpatient care setting, where paper-based prescribing is
most heavily used, so this type of community-based setting holds the greatest potential for e-prescribing
to be achieved.3
E-prescribing has allowed prescribers to electronically send patients’ prescription information to
pharmacy computers. This process has decreased prescribing and medication errors and has resulted in
fewer call-backs from pharmacies to physicians for clarification.4 Electronically sending and receiving
prescriptions has streamlined the clinical practice workflow, and patient satisfaction and compliance have
increased.5 Additionally, connecting physician and pharmacy systems has reduced paperwork and the
associated mistakes that may occur from reliance on handwritten notes.6 This change has produced time
and cost savings for all parties involved.
Even with all the benefits of e-prescribing, many providers and pharmacists have remained hesitant
about completely adopting an e-prescribing system.7 The main purpose of this research study was to
explore the benefits that e-prescribing has had in improving the efficacy, accuracy, and cost of prescribing
in ambulatory care settings and to assess the barriers to its implementation.
2 Perspectives in Health Information Management, Spring 2014
E-prescribing systems can be incorporated into electronic health record (EHR) systems or can be
stand-alone systems in the ambulatory care setting. EHR systems include patient information such as
clinical notes, laboratory orders and results, and clinical decision support (CDS) functions that stand-
alone systems do not provide.8 When e-prescribing is part of an EHR system, providers are able to access
all patient information, not just prescription information.9 The Health Information Technology for
Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 proposed that healthcare professionals throughout
the United States have access to EHRs and use them meaningfully according to standards set by the
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).10 The purpose of meaningful use is to use
technology to coordinate and improve patient care.11 E-prescribing is a way of using EHRs meaningfully
because the technology is used to enhance the quality of patient care.12 Allowing providers to access
patient histories, diagnoses, and medication information increases patient safety by reducing medical
errors. The less expensive and easier-to-manage option is the stand-alone system for e-prescribing.
Medication data that is pertinent for e-prescribing is the only information that providers are allowed to
store and update in a stand-alone system.13 The use of an EHR system that allows providers to store and
manage prescription information electronically has the potential to be safer and more cost efficient than
the use of written prescriptions.14
In 2011, the United States spent $263 billion on prescription drugs, which was a 2.9 percent increase
from 2010.15 With this growth in the prescribing of pharmaceutical drugs, e-prescribing is expected to
enhance the exchange of patient prescription information among many organizations including physician
offices, pharmacies in retail settings, prescription benefit management companies, and insurance
providers. E-prescribing has also helped to involve patients in the prescription process by automatically
sending e-mails, text messages, or voice mails to the patients confirming a physician’s order and
pharmacy of choice; pharmacies can then notify patients by the same pathways when a prescription is
ready.16 E-prescribing is also expected to increase the safety and quality of prescribing, enable patients to
have more cost-effective medication choices, and enhance the efficiency of the ambulatory care
workflow.17
Growth in e-prescribing came with the passing of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and
Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003.18 The MMA included the establishment of prescription drug
coverage under Medicare as of January 2006.19 This Medicare Part D prescription plan has supported e-
prescribing as a voluntary program for providers and pharmacists. It has the capability to make
prescribing through Medicare more efficient and well-organized by reducing prescribing errors and
coordinating patients’ treatments.20 To spur the use of e-prescribing for Medicare recipients, the Medicare
Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) was passed in 2008.21 Additionally, the HITECH
Act and the meaningful use standards set by CMS have also increased the overall use of e-prescribing in
the United States.22, 23
Methodology
This study’s examination of the benefits of and barriers to e-prescribing was conducted following the
basic principles of a systematic review. The research approach followed the steps and research framework
utilized by Yao, Chu, and Li.24 The use of this conceptual framework in the current study is appropriate
because the focus of both studies is to show how new technologies can be applied to medical settings to
enhance the care of patients.
The study was conducted in three stages: (1) identifying the literature and collecting the data, (2)
analyzing and evaluating the literature found, and (3) categorizing the literature.
Step 1: Literature Identification and Collection
The key phrases “electronic prescribing” or “e-prescribing” were combined with the terms
“Meaningful Use” or “ambulatory” or “quality” as inclusion criteria to search online scholarly databases
for articles. Databases included EBSCOhost, PubMed, Academic Search Premier, and Google Scholar.
The government websites of CMS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the US Department of Health and Human Services, as well as
Electronic Prescribing: Improving the Efficiency and Accuracy of Prescribing in the Ambulatory Care Setting
the website of Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, were used to obtain updated statistics
and data regarding e-prescribing.
Step 2: Literature Analysis
Literature was selected for review in the categories of governmental acts, meaningful use, and
benefits of and barriers to e-prescribing implementation. Given that the use of e-prescribing has been
growing in recent years as a result of legislation and incentive programs, the search results were limited to
those published between 2005 and 2013 in an attempt to stay current in research studies, and only studies
written in English were included. E-prescribing was limited to the ambulatory care setting in order to
distinguish the research topic from computerized provider order entry (CPOE) in hospitals. Only primary
and secondary data from articles, reports, reviews, and research studies written in the United States were
included in this research. References were reviewed and determined to have satisfied the inclusion criteria
if the material provided accurate information about e-prescribing with particular attention to the benefits
of and barriers to its implementation. The literature search was conducted by the first and second authors
and was validated by the third author, who acted as a second reader and also double-checked that the
references met the inclusion criteria. From a total of 138 initial references, only 47 sources were deemed
suitable for use in this research study.
Step 3: Literature Categorization
Abstracts of the articles were reviewed first to determine the relevancy of the data to the study. If
academic articles and studies were found to be relevant from the abstract reviews, the data were analyzed
and categories were generated on the basis of the findings. The findings of the systematic review are
presented in the results section below, in the categorizations of benefits and barriers of e-prescribing
implementation.
Results
An important factor in the quality of patient care is whether medical errors are present.25 In the United
States, an estimated 200,000 deaths occur yearly from preventable medical mistakes and hospital
infections.26 Errors in medication prescribing and filling are some of the most common types of medical
errors. Medication errors have been defined by the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error
Reporting and Prevention as preventable events that may cause or result in inappropriate use of
medications or harm to patients while the medication is being used by a healthcare professional, patient,
or consumer.27 These errors can occur in any part of the medication use process, which includes mistakes
from prescribing to dispensing of the drug and monitoring of how it is taken.28 The ambulatory care
setting is the most common place for prescribing errors to occur.29 (See Table 1.)
An adverse drug event (ADE) can be the result of preventable or non-preventable medical
interventions related to medications. ADEs are considered preventable if they are caused by medication
errors, and potential ADEs are errors that could result in harm to the patient.30 The Institute of Medicine
has estimated that 1.5 million preventable ADEs occur in the United States each year and more than 7,000
patient deaths can be linked to poor handwriting and prescription filling errors.31 The patient may never
be harmed if the error is discovered before it reaches the patient or if the error does not cause any negative
effect.32
Benefits and Advantages of E-prescribing Implementation
1. Patient Safety and Use of E-prescribing
Patient safety can be improved through e-prescribing by increasing prescription legibility, decreasing
the time required to prescribe medications and dispense them to patients, and decreasing medication
errors and ADEs.33 The National ePrescribing Patient Safety Initiative started to provide physicians with a
free e-prescribing web-based tool called eRx to encourage them to learn how to write prescriptions
electronically in order to reduce preventable medication errors.34 When e-prescribing is part of an EHR
system, prescriptions can be checked for interactions with patient medications, health conditions, and
allergies.35 Kaushal et al. found that error rates decreased from 42.5 per 100 prescriptions to 6.6 per 100
4 Perspectives in Health Information Management, Spring 2014
prescriptions, nearly a seventh of the previous level, in just one year after the adoption of e-prescribing in
12 community-based practices.36 In a prospective case study of 17 physicians in an ambulatory clinic
conducted by Abramson et al., prescribing error rates decreased from 35.7 per 100 prescriptions to 12.2
per 100 prescriptions after one year of e-prescribing.37 (See Table 1.)
Most e-prescribing systems include medication decision support (MDS), which helps providers avoid
errors in prescribing and ADEs. This program checks for drug-drug, drug-allergy, and drug-disease
interactions as well as drug cost and dosing recommendations. Physicians who use an e-prescribing
system integrated into an EHR system are more likely to use MDS. However, according to Kannry, there
is little evidence that MDS used in this manner is more beneficial to patient safety and reduction of
medication errors than when e-prescribing is part of a stand-alone system.38 (See Table 1.)
2. Efficiency of E-prescribing
E-prescribing improves the efficiency of the prescribing process. Though the actual entering of a new
prescription takes about 20 seconds longer per patient than writing a prescription, this time is offset by the
time saved because of the fact that less clarification is needed for electronic prescriptions.39 Prescribers
spent more time on the computer, on average an extra 6 minutes per prescriber per day or an increase of
20 seconds per patient when seeing 20 patients per day.40 If implemented correctly, e-prescribing should
cause little disruption in the workflow of ambulatory care settings.41 (See Table 1.)
At the pharmacy, the entering of prescriptions is more streamlined when software allows for
automated processing. An increase in efficiency is seen after implementing e-prescribing, mainly due to
less paperwork and fewer issues needing to be resolved (Petrus Lindeque, personal communication, April
14, 2013). Patient and prescriber names are matched up automatically by the system, while other fields
are generally automatically populated but often require manual manipulation; the main fields are drug
name, quantity, and patient instructions.42
Providers have found that less time is spent resolving issues with pharmacies, including prior
authorizations and refill requests.43 By having patients’ prescription formularies and eligibility
information available, prescribers can pick an appropriate medication and reduce the probability of
receiving a call from the pharmacy to change the medication to an alternative.44
3. Cost Savings Associated with E-prescribing
E-prescribing has the potential to save money. An analysis of a study done by Surescripts between
2008 and 2010 estimated $140 to $240 billion in savings and improved health outcomes, mainly through
improved medication adherence, over 10 years. Large savings occur with the reduction of ADEs, mostly
due to reduced visits to primary care offices and emergency rooms.45 A study done in Massachusetts in
2006 found that each hospitalization due to an ADE costs about $9,000; each emergency room visit,
$427; and each visit to the doctor’s office, $111. From these numbers an annual estimated savings of
$402,619 was found.46 (See Table 1.)
4. Increase in Patient Medication Adherence and Patient Cost Savings
Another potential cost savings results from the increase in patient medication adherence. Increased
adherence to medication therapy can promote better health outcomes and reduce costs. The Surescripts
study from 2008 to 2010 found a 10 percent increase in prescriptions picked up when e-prescribed
compared to written prescriptions.47 (See Table 1.)
Along with medication adherence, substitution of generic medications or less costly formulary
alternatives can reduce the cost to patients and insurance companies. E-prescribing systems that have
employed MDS can help physicians choose a low-cost option that may be clinically better for the patient
by eliminating bias. A study by McMullin, Lonergan, and Rynearson (2005) involving 19 clinicians
Electronic Prescribing: Improving the Efficiency and Accuracy of Prescribing in the Ambulatory Care Setting
found a 17.5 percent decrease in prescriptions for high-cost drugs among the intervention group compared
to the control group.48 This decrease led to savings of $109,897 on new prescriptions in 12 months or an
average of $482 per prescriber per month during the follow-up study.49 (See Table 1.)
Meaningful Use and E-prescribing
The HITECH Act of 2009 proposed that eligible healthcare providers throughout the United States
have access to EHRs and use them according to the standards for meaningful use set by CMS.50 CMS has
made e-prescribing one of the core requirements of meaningful use, requiring eligible providers to
transmit at least 40 percent of eligible prescriptions electronically during Stage 1.51 Other meaningful use
criteria that relate to e-prescribing include the ability of technology to check for drug-drug and drug-
allergy interactions, the ability to maintain a medication list, and the ability to perform drug formulary
checks.52 The e-prescribing provisions in Medicare have increased the overall use of e-prescribing in the
United States. The number of electronically routed prescriptions increased from $570 million in 2011 to
$788 million in 2012.53 Through the EHR incentive program, CMS has provided incentive payments of
$44,000 for Medicare-eligible providers demonstrating meaningful use of EHRs through 2014; then,
starting in 2015, eligible providers failing to demonstrate meaningful use will receive Medicare payments
reduced by 1 percent, with penalties increasing to 5 percent in 2020.54 Though these efforts have helped to
increase the use of e-prescribing from 38 percent of prescriptions dispensed in 2011 to 44 percent in 2012,
most prescriptions are still sent to pharmacies outside of an electronic system.55
Barriers to Implementation of E-prescribing
1. Cost of Implementing an E-prescribing System
While e-prescribing offers many benefits, not all providers have been excited about implementing e-
prescribing systems. A major barrier, reported by more than 80 percent of primary care physicians, has
been lack of financial support.56 New technology requires training and information technology support for
installation and upkeep. A practice must take these costs into account when deciding whether to
implement an e-prescribing system and also when choosing a stand-alone system or one that is integrated
into an EHR system.57 According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, in a 2007 study
the total cost of implementing an e-prescribing system was found to be $42,332, with annual costs after
implementation of about $14,725 per year, for a practice of 10 full-time equivalent psychiatrists.58 (See
Table 1.)
Policies and financial rewards are not sufficient incentives for all prescribers to adopt e-prescribing.
Providers have faced many barriers with the complex technology and lack of complete patient record
availability through e-prescribing systems.59
2. E-prescribing System Errors
If an e-prescribing system has not been designed properly, new types of errors can occur. A major
error is lack of alert specificity and overload of alerts, producing a phenomenon called alert fatigue: when
presented with loads of alerts when each prescription is entered, prescribers tend to stop reading the alerts
and just quickly scroll through them.60 When alerts are ignored, a major interaction can be missed. One
study done in 2010 found that design issues were among the reasons to stop using e-prescribing software;
reasons included hardware problems (12.4 percent), workflow issues (27.9 percent), software problems
(34.0 percent), and other problems (25.5 percent) such as cost, time consumption, and connection issues.61
(See Table 1.)
3. Privacy and Legal Issues
Privacy of patient information can also be a concern for providers and patients. Most EHR systems
are web based, and some deliver information wirelessly. Information can be leaked at numerous points,
and if proper firewalls and intrusion prevention systems are not in place, the opportunity exists for
protected patient information to be stolen.62 Most information breaches actually occur as a result of
6 Perspectives in Health Information Management, Spring 2014
internal employees’ actions, so continuous training on security is imperative and can incur additional
costs.63
Legal issues arise when providers need to prescribe controlled substances. On March 31, 2010, the
DEA made a final ruling on e-prescribing of controlled substances that took effect on June 1, 2010.64 The
rule made it legal to transmit controlled substance prescriptions electronically, though the many standards
contained in the ruling make it cumbersome to implement. These standards include identity proofing,
two-factor authentication, digital certificates, monthly logs, third-party audits of software, and a
requirement to keep two years of records.65 Potential costs of implementing these systems were estimated
by the DEA in 2010 to be between $43 million and $1.54 billion for different options that include features
such as identity proofing, authentication protocols, and various security requirements.66
Discussion
The purpose of this research was to explore the benefits that e-prescribing has had on the efficacy and
accuracy of prescribing in clinical settings throughout the United States. The results of this study suggest
that increasing use of e-prescribing has resulted in improved patient safety, cost savings, and a more
streamlined and efficient prescribing process.
More medications are being prescribed than ever before, and with this increase comes the potential
for more mistakes. E-prescribing has eliminated some of the possibilities for mistakes and can potentially
help prevent more than 2 million ADEs a year, 130,000 of which are life threatening.67 It also has been
shown to reduce medication errors in the ambulatory setting by as much as sevenfold. E-prescribing
removes mistakes due to illegibility and helps providers make better informed decisions about what
medications to prescribe on the basis of patient histories and allergy data, all of which are available in
systems that are integrated with EHRs. The systems alert prescribers when an allergy or interaction with
other medications or health conditions is detected. A problem with these alerts is that in some cases alerts
pop up when there is minimal risk or when there is not a true complication. Prescribers may be
overloaded with alerts and click through them rather than read each one, potentially missing an important
interaction.
E-prescribing also helps to make patient care more efficient. It streamlines the process of getting the
prescription to the pharmacy, dispensing the medication, and obtaining refills. Because the patient is not
given a hard copy of the prescription, the potential for losing the prescription is eliminated. The instances
of pharmacy-initiated clarifications have decreased, reducing the amount of time pharmacists and
providers spend on the phone and thus reducing the time taken to fill the prescription and get it to the
patient. Increased compliance and monitoring of compliance are also results of implementing e-
prescribing.
The potential for cost savings has been estimated to be $27 billion per year in the United States.68
Cost savings are created through reduction in ADEs, improved efficiency, and improved provider access
to formularies. The amount of time that is spent dealing with clarifications is greatly reduced, allowing
prescribers to focus on patient care. Cost savings, along with incentives and improved efficiency, will
increase the use of e-prescribing in the future.
Another purpose of this study was to explore the barriers to implementing an e-prescribing system,
the primary one being cost. Many smaller practices have had a hard time with both the cost of the system
and the cost of training staff.69 Although the HITECH Act has provided incentives for meeting the
meaningful use requirements, providers continue to incur substantial costs in implementing and
supporting their health information technology systems.
Another hindrance is an inability to send controlled substances as electronic prescriptions. For some
prescribers, controlled substances represent a large portion of the medications they prescribe. New
legislation has made it possible to send controlled prescriptions, but there are many stipulations that make
doing so difficult. An issue also arises with the inability of multiple systems to share information
effectively because of the lack of interoperability, which reduces the effectiveness of e-prescribing
systems. Errors that arise from lack of alert specificity and overload can result in major drug interactions.
Electronic Prescribing: Improving the Efficiency and Accuracy of Prescribing in the Ambulatory Care Setting
This research study could be limited by the search strategy used and the number of databases
searched, and publication bias may have restricted the articles that were available for this review.
Researcher bias may have been an issue because articles were evaluated by the researchers to determine
the relevancy to the study. Research on e-prescribing in ambulatory care settings is also limited compared
to that in hospital settings. Fewer studies have addressed the benefits of e-prescribing and error reductions
in the ambulatory setting as compared to hospital settings.
Conclusion
The findings of this research study suggest that e-prescribing has the potential to increase patient
safety and patient medication adherence; create cost savings for medical clinics, hospitals, and patients;
and improve efficiency in the ambulatory care setting. However, barriers to its implementation still
persist, the main one being the cost of implementation.
Amber Porterfield, MS, is a graduate of the Marshall University Graduate College of Business Health
Care Administration Program in South Charleston, WV.
Kate Engelbert, MS, is a graduate of the Marshall University Graduate College of Business Health
Care Administration Program in South Charleston, WV.
Alberto Coustasse, DrPH, MD, MBA, is an associate professor at the Marshall University Graduate
College of Business Health Care Administration Program in South Charleston, WV.
8 Perspectives in Health Information Management, Spring 2014
Notes
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2. eHealth Initiative and Center for Improving Medication Management. A Clinician’s Guide to
Electronic Prescribing. 2008. Available at
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Electronic Prescribing in Community-based Practices.” Journal of General Internal Medicine
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4. Thomas, C. P., M. Kim, A. McDonald, P. Kreiner, S. J. Kelleher, M. B. Blackman, et al.
“Prescribers’ Expectations and Barriers to Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances.
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5. Ibid.
6. Bigler, L. “E-prescribing Benefits beyond Achieving Meaningful Use.” Drug Store News 34,
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18. Bell, D. S., and M. A. Friedman. “E-prescribing and the Medicare Modernization Act of
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21. H.R. 6331—110th Congress. Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of
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22. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Meaningful Use.”
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24. Yao, W., C. H. Chu, and Z. Li. “The Use of RFID in Healthcare: Benefits and Barriers.” In
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Prescribing Improves Medication Safety in Community-based Office Practices.”
10 Perspectives in Health Information Management, Spring 2014
37. Abramson, E. L., S. Malhotra, K. Fischer, A. Edwards, E. Pfoh, S. Osorio, et al.
“Transitioning between Electronic Health Records: Effects on Ambulatory Prescribing
Safety.”
38. Kannry, J. “Effect of E-prescribing Systems on Patient Safety.” Mount Sinai Journal of
Medicine 78, no. 6 (2011): 827–33.
39. Devine, E. B., W. Hollingworth, R. N. Hansen, N. M. Lawless, J. L. Wilson-Norton, D. P.
Martin, et al. “Electronic Prescribing at the Point of Care: A Time-Motion Study in the
Primary Care Setting.” HSR: Health Services Research 45, no. 1 (2010): 152–71.
40. Ibid.
41. Hollingworth, W., E. B. Devine, R. N. Hansen, N. M. Lawless, B. A. Comstock, J. L.
Wilson-Norton, et al. “The Impact of E-prescribing on Prescriber and Staff Time in
Ambulatory Care Clinics: A Time-Motion Study.” Journal of the American Medical
Informatics Association 14, no. 6 (2007): 722–30.
42. Grossman, J. M., D. A. Cross, E. R. Boukus, and G. R. Cohen. “Transmitting and Processing
Electronic Prescriptions: Experiences of Physician Practices and Pharmacies.” Journal of the
American Medical Informatics Association 19, no. 3 (2011): 353–59.
43. Lapane, K. L., R. K. Rosen, and C. Dubè. “Perceptions of E-prescribing Efficiencies and
Inefficiencies in Ambulatory Care.” International Journal of Medical Informatics 80, no. 1
(2011): 39–46.
44. Ibid.
45. Surescripts. “Study: E-prescribing Shown to Improve Outcomes and Save Healthcare System
Billions of Dollars.” February 1, 2012. Available at http://www.surescripts.com/news-and-
events/press-releases/2012/february/212_eprescribing (accessed November 13, 2013).
46. Weingart, S. N., B. Simchowitz, H. Padolsky, T. Isaac, A. C. Seger, M. Massagli, et al. “An
Empirical Model to Estimate the Potential Impact of Medication Safety Alerts on Patient
Safety, Health Care Utilization, and Cost in Ambulatory Care.” Archives of Internal
Medicine 169, no. 16 (2009): 1465–73.
47. Surescripts. “Study: E-prescribing Shown to Improve Outcomes and Save Healthcare System
Billions of Dollars.”
48. McMullin, S. T., T. P. Lonergan, and C. S. Rynearson. “Twelve-Month Drug Cost Savings
Related to Use of an Electronic Prescribing System with Integrated Decision Support in
Primary Care.” Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy 11, no. 4 (2005): 322–32.
49. Ibid.
50. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Meaningful Use.”
51. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Stage 1 vs. Stage 2 Comparison Table
for Eligible Professionals. 2012.
Available at http://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-
Guidance/Legislation/EHRIncentivePrograms/Downloads/Stage1vsStage2CompTablesforEP
.pdf (accessed September 23, 2013).
52. Ibid.
53. Surescripts. “The National Progress Report on E-prescribing and SAFE-Rx Rankings.” 2012.
Available at http://surescripts.com/docs/default-source/communication-
promotion/national_progress_report_on_e-prescribing_2012_surescripts.pdf?sfvrsn=4
(accessed February 22, 2014).
54. US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Services: Medicare and Medicaid Incentives and Administrative Funding.” 2010.
http://www.hhs.gov/recovery/reports/plans/pdf20100610/CMS_HIT%20Implementation%20
Plan%20508%20compliant.pdf (accessed April 3, 2013).
55. Surescripts. “The National Progress Report on E-prescribing and SAFE-Rx Rankings.”
Electronic Prescribing: Improving the Efficiency and Accuracy of Prescribing in the Ambulatory Care Setting
56. Anderson, J. G. “Social, Ethical and Legal Barriers to E-health.” International Journal of
Medical Informatics 76, nos. 5–6 (2007): 480–83.
57. Ibid.
58. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). “How Much Does an E-prescribing
System Cost?” 2013. Available at
http://www.hrsa.gov/healthit/toolbox/HealthITAdoptiontoolbox/ElectronicPrescribing/costof
epres.html (accessed November 13, 2013).
59. Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation (CHRT). “E-prescribing: Barriers and
Opportunities.” 2011. Available at http://www.chrt.org/public-policy/policy-papers/e-
prescribing-barriers-and-opportunities/ (accessed February 21, 2013).
60. Brooks, P., and C. Sonnenschein. “E-prescribing: Where Health Information and Patient Care
Intersect.” Journal of Healthcare Information Management 24, no. 2 (2010): 53–59.
61. Jariwala, K. S., E. R. Holmes, B. F. Banahan III, and D. J. McCaffrey III. “Adoption of and
Experience with E-prescribing by Primary Care Physicians.” Research in Social and
Administrative Pharmacy 9, no. 1 (2013): 120–28.
62. Nataraj, S. “Security Concerns in E-prescribing.” Review of Business Information Systems
15, no. 1 (2011): 15–18.
63. Ibid.
64. American Medical Association (AMA). Summary of DEA’s Interim Final Rule on Controlled
Substance E-prescribing. 2010. Available at http://www.ama-
assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/399/dea-eprescriptions-final-rule-summary.pdf (accessed
April 11, 2013).
65. Ibid.
66. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Economic Impact Analysis of the Interim Final
Electronic Prescription Rule. 2010. Available at
http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/ecomm/e_rx/eia_dea_218.pdf (accessed April 11, 2013).
67. Leavitt, M. O. Pilot Testing of Initial Electronic Prescribing Standards–Cooperative
Agreements Required Under Section 1860D-(4)(e) of the Social Security Act as Amended by
the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Action (MMA) of 2003.
Washington, DC: Secretary of Health and Human Services Report, 2007.
68. Ibid.
69. Lander, L., D. G. Klepser, G. L. Cochran, D. E. Lomelin, and M. Morien. “Barriers to
Electronic Prescribing: Nebraska Pharmacists’ Perspective.” Journal of Rural Health 29
(2013): 119–124.
12 Perspectives in Health Information Management, Spring 2014
Table 1
Benefits and Barriers to the Adoption of E-prescribing
Author and Year
Result
McMullin, Lonergan,
and Rynearson (2005)
queries to identify additional prescription
claims data for all Network Health Plan
patients included in the authors’ original
Found a 17.5 percent decrease in prescriptions
for high-cost drugs among the intervention
group compared to the control group, which
resulted in a savings of $109,897 on new
prescriptions in 12 months.
Weingart et al. (2009)
from Massachusetts ambulatory care
clinicians using a single e-prescribing
system to estimate the likelihood and
Each hospitalization due to an ADE costs about
$9,000; each emergency room visit, $427; and
each visit to the doctor’s office, $111. An
annual estimated savings of $402,619 was found
on the basis of these numbers.
Devine et al. (2010)
study conducted in three community-
based primary care clinics to evaluate the
impact of e-prescribing on prescriber
Prescribers spent more time on the computer.
On average, prescribers spent an extra 6 minutes
per day, or 20 seconds per patient for prescribers
seeing 20 patients per day.
Kaushal et al. (2010)
providers who adopted e-prescribing
compared with 15 providers who still
used paper prescriptions to monitor
Prescribing error rates decreased from 42.5 per
100 prescriptions to 6.6 per 100 prescriptions in
one year, nearly a seventh of the previous level,
after the adoption of e-prescribing.
Abramson et al. (2011)
in an academic-affiliated ambulatory
clinic with an enhanced clinical decision
support e-prescribing system to observe
Prescribing error rates decreased from 35.7 per
100 prescriptions to 12.2 per 100 prescriptions
after one year of e-prescribing.
Kannry (2011)
MDS to determine where MDS enhances
patient safety.
Found little evidence that e-prescribing with a
MDS program is more beneficial to patient
safety and reduction of medication errors than
when e-prescribing is part of a stand-alone
system.
Surescripts (2012)
sets from 40 million prescription records
that compared medication adherence in
patients with e-prescriptions vs. paper,
phoned-in, and faxed prescriptions.
$140 billion to $240 billion in estimated savings
and improved patient health outcomes, mainly
through improved medication adherence, over
ten years. Increase of 10 percent in prescriptions
picked up when e-prescribed compared to
written prescriptions.
Health Resources and
Services
Administration (2013)
implementation and costs of an e-
prescribing system in a 10-FTE practice
of psychiatrists in a nonprofit public
Found a cost of $42,332 to implement an e-
prescribing system, with annual costs after
implementation of about $14,725 per year.
Jariwala et al. (2013)
convenience sample of physicians to
observe e-prescribing implementation.
Reasons to stop using e-prescribing software
included hardware problems (12.4 percent),
workflow issues (27.9 percent), software
problems (34.0 percent), and other problems
(25.5 percent), such as time consumption and
connection issues.
Electronic Prescribing: Improving the Efficiency and Accuracy of Prescribing in the Ambulatory Care Setting
Abbreviations: ADE, adverse drug event; FTE, full-time equivalent; MDS, medication decision support.
Sources:
McMullin, S. T., T. P. Lonergan, and C. S. Rynearson. “Twelve-Month Drug Cost Savings Related to
Use of an Electronic Prescribing System with Integrated Decision Support in Primary Care.” Journal
of Managed Care Pharmacy 11, no. 4 (2005): 322–32.
Weingart, S. N., B. Simchowitz, H. Padolsky, T. Isaac, A. C. Seger, M. Massagli, et al. “An Empirical
Model to Estimate the Potential Impact of Medication Safety Alerts on Patient Safety, Health Care
Utilization, and Cost in Ambulatory Care.” Archives of Internal Medicine 169, no. 16 (2009): 1465–
73.
Devine, E. B., W. Hollingworth, R. N. Hansen, N. M. Lawless, J. L. Wilson-Norton, D. P. Martin, et al.
“Electronic Prescribing at the Point of Care: A Time-Motion Study in the Primary Care Setting.”
HSR: Health Services Research 45, no. 1 (2010): 152–71.
Kaushal, R., L. M. Kern, Y. Barrón, J. Quaresimo, and E. L. Abramson. “Electronic Prescribing Improves
Medication Safety in Community-based Office Practices.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 25,
no. 6 (2010): 530–36.
Abramson, E. L., S. Malhotra, K. Fischer, A. Edwards, E. Pfoh, S. Osorio, et al. “Transitioning between
Electronic Health Records: Effects on Ambulatory Prescribing Safety.” Journal of General Internal
Medicine 26, no. 8 (2011): 868–74.
Kannry, J. “Effect of E-prescribing Systems on Patient Safety.” Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine 78, no.
6 (2011): 827–33.
Surescripts. “The National Progress Report on E-prescribing and SAFE-Rx Rankings.” 2012. Available at
http://surescripts.com/docs/default-source/communication-promotion/national_progress_report_on_e-
prescribing_2012_surescripts.pdf?sfvrsn=4 (accessed February 22, 2014).
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). “How Much Does an E-prescribing System
Cost?” 2013. Available at
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ml (accessed November 13, 2013).
Jariwala, K. S., E. R. Holmes, B. F. Banahan III, and D. J. McCaffrey III. “Adoption of and Experience
with E-prescribing by Primary Care Physicians.” Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy 9,
no. 1 (2013): 120–28.
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Objective: The objective of this study is to describe the growth in provider (physician, nurse practitioner, and physician assistant) adoption of e-prescribing and the growth in pharmacies actively accepting e-prescriptions using nationally representative data from December 2008 to December 2012. Additionally, this study explored e-prescribing adoption variation by urban and rural counties. Study design: Descriptive analysis of nationally representative, transactional e-prescribing data. Methods: Data for this analysis were from Surescripts. Surescripts is a leading e-prescription network utilized by a majority of all chain, franchise, or independently owned pharmacies in the United States routing prescriptions for more than 240 million patients through their network. Results: The total number of prescribers, including physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants e-prescribing via an electronic health record (EHR) on the Surescripts network has increased from 7% to 54%. Additionally, the number of pharmacies actively accepting e-prescriptions is 94%. These increases in pharmacies actively accepting e-prescriptions and the provider's eprescribing mirror the increase in the volume of e-prescriptions sent on the Surescripts network. Conclusions: This analysis shows that the vast majority of pharmacies in the United States are able to accept e-prescriptions and over half of providers are e-prescribing via an EHR.
Purpose – With the number of prescriptions rising nationally each year, it is surprising that web‐based technology is not fully embraced in the pharmacy industry as an aid to quality‐assuring prescribing processes. Traditional prescription handling is done in a manual fashion with physicians hand‐writing prescriptions for the patients during an office visit, giving the patient the responsibility of taking the prescription to a pharmacy or mailing the prescription to a mail order company for fulfillment. Electronic prescribing (e‐prescribing) has the ability not only to streamline the prescription writing process, but also to reduce the number of errors that may be incurred with hand‐written prescriptions. The purpose of this paper is to investigate these phenomena in the USA. Design/methodology/approach – A number of hypotheses were tested using principal‐components analysis (PCA) and factor analyses. As a result, a total of 55 fully employed, professional and semi‐professional service management and internet users, representing a college‐educated and knowledge‐based sample derived from the metropolitan section of Pittsburgh, was selected. Findings – The six major constructs generated from the factor loadings in descending order of importance were: profit and risk factors, shipping and handling, saving, customer relationship management (CRM) and ethics, age, and awareness. The dependent variable chosen to be regressed against these major independent factor‐based constructs was willingness to purchase prescriptions online. The overall relationship was found to be statistically significant (F=2.971, p=0.015) in predicting willingness to use e‐prescribing options based on the various independent constructs. However, when testing the various standardized beta coefficients in the linear model, only the factor score‐based construct CRM and ethics was found to significantly contribute to predicting the willingness to purchase prescriptions online (t=−3.074, p=0.003). Research limitations/implications – Although this study appears to represent the e‐prescribing process in the USA, the sample size and region studied are only one slice of the general population. Practical implications – Unfortunately, the adoption of e‐prescribing has been difficult to attain owing to numerous barriers throughout the industry. Such acceptance barriers include lack of technology trust, associated system costs, and risk of un‐securing patient health and medical information. Originality/value – This article documents that increasing numbers of pharmacies today are building their IT‐infrastructures to accept electronic prescriptions and it may soon be the preferred method for physicians to write prescriptions. It is with great anticipation that this technology will also enhance the prescription‐writing abilities of prescribing physicians globally, giving them electronic access to patient medical records and resources that will assist them in prescribing the correct drug for the patient.
Article
Purpose: Electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) and its accompanying clinical decision support capabilities have been promoted as means for reducing medication errors and improving efficiency. The objectives of this study were to identify the barriers to adoption of e-prescribing among nonparticipating Nebraska pharmacies and to describe how the lack of pharmacy participation impacts the ability of physicians to meet meaningful use criteria. Methods: We interviewed pharmacists and/or managers from nonparticipating pharmacies to determine barriers to the adoption of e-prescribing. We used open-ended questions and a structured questionnaire to capture participants’ responses. Findings: Of the 23 participants, 10 (43%) reported plans to implement e-prescribing sometime in the future but delayed participation due to transaction fees and maintenance costs, as well as lack of demand from customers and prescribers to implement e-prescribing. Nine participants (39%) reported no intention to e-prescribe in the future, citing start-up costs for implementing e-prescribing, transaction fees and maintenance costs, happiness with the current system, and lack of understanding about e-prescribing's benefits and how to implement e-prescribing. Conclusions: The barriers to e-prescribing identified by both late adopters and those not willing to accept e-prescriptions were similar and were mainly initial costs and transaction fees associated with each new prescription. For some rural pharmacies, not participating in e-prescribing may be a rational business decision. To increase participation, waiving or reimbursing transaction fees, based on demographic or financial characteristics of the pharmacy, may be warranted.
Article
Background: The impetus of electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) is the reduction of preventable medication errors by generating a legible prescription checked via e-prescribing software for drug-drug and other interactions. Although the adoption of e-prescribing among physicians is growing, the Institute of Medicine's recommendations that all prescriptions be routed electronically by 2010 certainly has not been met. Objectives: To provide an update on e-prescribing use among primary care physicians (PCPs), describe their experience with e-prescribing, and provide insight into prescribers' decisions to implement e-prescribing in their practices. Methods: An Internet-based survey was administered to a national convenience sample of physicians. The respondents were categorized into e-prescribers or non-e-prescribers. Data to describe demographic characteristics, respondents' experiences with e-prescribing, and respondents' decision to implement e-prescribing were collected. Nonparametric tests were used to test differences in the factors influencing e-prescribers' and traditional prescribers' decisions about electronic prescription implementation. Results: Four hundred forty-three PCPs participated in the study. There were no significant differences in the demographic characteristics of e-prescribers and non-e-prescribers. Most e-prescribers (83%) reported satisfaction with their e-prescribing system and a preference for e-prescribing over traditional prescribing. Although 22% of respondents indicated that they have started and stopped e-prescribing, most have resumed or intended to resume e-prescribing in the near future. More than half of the respondents reported that they are experiencing problems with their e-prescribing software. Conclusions: E-prescribing appears to be present in many types of primary care practices and geographic areas of the country. Despite their satisfaction with and preference for e-prescribing, PCPs still appear to be experiencing problems with e-prescribing software. Implications of these study results for the pharmacy profession are discussed.