Last week, the big eRx (electronic prescription) clearing house, Sure Scripts, released a comprehensive report on the growth of eRx. Astounding numbers presented, as well as some nice graphics/metrics for anyone who is putting together a presentation on the subject
Based on their research, which goes back to 2004, Sure Scripts has seen eRx more than triple in the first 3 quarters of 2007 compared to the the previous 3 years (2004, 2005, 2006) combined. Despite that kind of growth, the report claims that eRx still only represents some 5% of all prescriptions filled.
Could we see another tripling, or more in 2008? Potential is certainly there with a new legislative push in Washington requiring eRx for Medicare.
While many will state that eRx will help improve outcomes by lowering medication errors, the evidence is simply not there. What eRx is really about is saving money and such savings come from the transactions such as:
- Simplified routing of prescriptions to both pharmacy and payer for processing.
- Significant reduction in time for providers to determine patient eligibility.
- And an oft-stated comment that it makes it easier to prescribe appropriate generics as substitutes.
Despite these advantages, eRx is still new and continues to suffer growth pains. The solutions available today still require a fair level of effort to implement and support within a provider’s healthcare IT (HIT) platform, not all pharmacies are set-up to support eRx and there is always the challenge, as with any IT solution of seamless integration into an existing practice’s workflow.
But these issues are not big enough to slow adoption, especially when the biggest spender on prescriptions, Uncle Sam who is footing the bill on Medicare, starts telling providers their reimbursements will be cut if they don’t adopt eRx by 2011.
For all those providers looking for examples of Best Practices, well you may want to start in the fine state of Massachusetts, which according to the Sure Scripts report, ranked #1. So in addition to the Red Sox, the Patriots, the Revolution and the Celtics, we have one more thing to be proud of!