E-Prescribing for Controlled Substances Up in Recent Years

January 2, 2015 in News

The number of electronically prescribed controlled substances has increased significantly in recent years, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, Health Data Management reports.

The study — co-authored by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s Office of Planning, Evaluation and Analysis — is based on nationally representative data from Surescripts, an e-prescribing network, between July 2012 and December 2013.

Study Findings

During the time period analyzed, the number of e-prescriptions for controlled substances increased from 1,535 to 52,423. Meanwhile, the percentage of pharmacies using e-prescribing systems increased from 13% to 30%.

Specifically, during the 18-month study period the researchers found:

  • The number of e-prescriptions for controlled substances increased by about 3,000 per month; and
  • The number of e-prescribing-enabled pharmacies increased by about 700 per month (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 1/2).

In addition, the study found that about 300 new providers on average sent e-prescriptions for controlled substances each month.

E-Prescribing Challenges

In an ONC blog post, the study authors detailed challenges to e-prescribing, including:

  • Provider authentication issues;
  • Regulatory barriers; and
  • System security compliance (Wilkins et al., “Health IT Buzz,” 12/31/14).

Despite those challenges, ONC suggests that e-prescribing is a more secure method of handling controlled substance prescriptions, adding that changes, such as fingerprint scanners for computers, are being implemented to improve provider authentication (Health Data Management, 1/2).

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