NEW YORK The United States has long been a laggard in healthcare information technology, but the country lately has undergone a Cambrian explosion of e-prescribing, as numbers from Walgreens and the e-prescribing network Surescripts demonstrate. The $19 billion that the federal stimulus package offers as an incentive to adopt HIT likely will accelerate the trend.
Walgreens reported Tuesday that the number of prescriptions filed electronically through an e-prescribing program the company started in 1992 reached 4 million in October – a 185% increase over last October – and is projected to reach 45 million by the end of the year. That number was 15 million in 2008.
Further evidence comes from the e-prescribing network Surescripts, which reported in October that more than 140,000 physicians, physician assistance and nurse practitioners now transmit prescriptions electronically. At the end of last year, by contrast active e-prescribers numbered 74,000 and hit the 100,000 mark in May.