HSC: Having e-prescribing doesn't guarantee its use

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Physician practice adoption of e-prescribing has not guaranteed that individual physicians will routinely use the technology, according to a study from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC).

HSC, based in Washington, D.C., surveyed 4,182 office-based physicians and found that 41.9 percent reported technology was available in their practice to write prescriptions in 2008.

“About a quarter of the physicians reporting availability of IT to write prescriptions (23.1 percent) used the technology only occasionally or not at all,” wrote author Joy M. Grossman, PhD, senior health researcher at HSC. “So in 2008, about one-third of all physicians in ambulatory settings (32.3 percent) routinely used e-prescribing.”

The study also found that fewer than 60 percent of physicians with e-prescribing capability had access to three advanced features included as part of the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs—identifying potential drug interactions, obtaining formulary information and transmitting prescriptions to pharmacies electronically—and less than a quarter routinely used all three features.

Of physicians with e-prescribing capabilities, 64.5 percent routinely used the drug interaction feature, slightly more than half (53.7 percent) routinely transmitted prescriptions to pharmacies and only 34.3 percent routinely used the formulary information feature, the report found.

Moreover, only three in five physicians with e-prescribing capabilities reported that all three features were available in their practice, and fewer than a quarter (22.7 percent) used all three routinely. In 2008, only 9.6 percent of all physicians in office-based ambulatory settings routinely used the three advanced e-prescribing features, according to the study.

The 2008 HSC Health Tracking Physician Survey was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.