Primary care physicians excel at e-prescribing, meeting stage 1 requirements

May 31, 2012

Primary care physicians lead the pack in e-prescribing. You may be shocked to see how many of your colleagues have made the transition in the last 3 years.

The majority of physicians have met stage 1 meaningful use requirements, and many are already meeting stage 2 measures, according to a new report from the e-prescription network Surescripts.

More than half of all office-based physicians sent prescriptions electronically by the end of last year, up from one in 10 in 2008, the study notes. Thirty-six percent of all prescriptions were routed electronically by the end of last year, compared with 22% in 2010, Surescripts adds.

Family physicians were the most frequent e-prescribers, according to the report, and seven out of 10 met stage 1 meaningful use requirements for e-prescribing. Primary care physicians (PCPs) have demonstrated the most growth in e-prescribing, with internal medicine and family physicians increasing their e-prescription levels from 45% to 81% and from 47% to 75%, respectively, from 2008 to 2011.

E-prescribing is among the core objectives for stage 1 meaningful use. It requires more than 40% of an eligible provider’s prescriptions to be routed electronically. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services already has issued more than $4 billion in incentive payments to providers who have met the meaningful use measure, Surescripts says.

E-prescription use has risen dramatically each quarter starting in 2008, when 5,600 physicians adopted e-prescribing in the first quarter compared with 17,000 in the last quarter. Roughly 60% of all physicians have met stage 1 meaningful use requirements, the report says, and about 38% would meet the stage 2 requirements if they were in effect today.

Surescripts says that prescribers with integrated electronic health record systems used e-prescribing at a higher rate than users of standalone software packages. The top four medical specialties now e-prescribing and who have met stage 1 requirements are family physicians, internists, pediatricians, and general practitioners, according to Surescripts. Solo practitioners prescribed medications electronically more often than those in larger practices.

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