Massachusetts ranks first in the nation when it comes to the use of electronic prescribing, according to the Surescripts national electronic prescription network.

Surescripts, electronic prescribing, e-prescribing, e-prescriptions, electronic prescription, Safe-Rx Award, Massachusetts, David Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse, Harry Totonis, electronic health record, health IT, health information technology

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Massachusetts leads in electronic prescribing

September 22nd, 2010

WASHINGTON – Massachusetts ranks first in the nation when it comes to the use of electronic prescribing, according to the Surescripts national electronic prescription network.

Surescripts announced the state's achievement Tuesday on Capitol Hill at its annual Safe-Rx Awards event, where the e-prescribing provider also said that more than 200,000 office-based prescribers — one out of every three doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the United States — now use e-prescribing.

According to the results of an annual nationwide audit of electronic prescribing use, Massachusetts sent more than 11 million prescriptions electronically in 2009, representing 32.3% of all prescriptions in the state, Surescripts reported.

Massachusetts and nine other leading e-prescribing states were honored at the Safe-Rx Awards event, which recognizes leadership and commitment to advancing health care safety, efficiency and quality through the use of e-prescriptions.

Rounding out the top 10 states with the highest e-prescription rates were Michigan, Rhode Island, Delaware, North Carolina, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Indiana and Florida. Among the largest states by population, California finished 45th, New York came in 36th and Texas was 22nd, according to the Safe-Rx e-prescribing ranking.

While some states are adopting the technology faster than others, Surescripts noted that e-prescribing use is growing substantially nationwide. In 2009, 47 states more than doubled their use of prescription routing, and 39 more than doubled their use of prescription benefit information.

The network pointed out that e-prescribing saves lives, time and money as well as improves the quality of care by replacing a pen and paper prescription pad with a more accurate, reliable and secure electronic prescription and by allowing doctors to access critical information on their patients' medications and health plan coverage.

"Health information technology offers great promise to improve the quality and efficiency of care for every person," Dr. David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health information technology for the Department of Health and Human Services, said at the Safe-Rx Awards event. "As we have seen today, electronic prescribing is a valuable health IT tool for a rapidly growing number of health care providers. The shift from the traditional paper prescription pad to a secure, electronic format has improved the efficiency, accuracy and quality of the prescription process for both providers and patients."

Blumenthal was joined at the event by other state and national leaders, including Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.), who was honored with the Safe-Rx Evangelist Award for his efforts to boost the awareness and use of e-prescribing in his home state of Rhode Island as well as on a federal level. Rhode Island had the nation's third-highest e-prescribing rate in 2009.

"E-prescribing is just the first step in the nation's plan for health information technology, and it is only one component of an electronic health record," stated Harry Totonis, president and chief executive officer of Surescripts. "Surescripts is committed to helping these same communities build a more efficient, secure and reliable means of sharing a broader set of health information such as lab results and doctors' notes. This will not be easy, but neither was convincing the first 200,000 physicians to get rid of their prescription pads. Our experience tells us that, working together, health information technology can and will continue to drive meaningful improvements in care."

Surescripts added that starting with this year's Awards, it has applied a more comprehensive method for ranking states' use of e-prescribing — one that measures the use of three key steps: electronically confirming a patient's prescription benefit information before sending the e-prescription; electronically cross-referencing a patient's medication history with pharmacies and payers; and electronically routing a prescription to the patient's choice of pharmacy.