The Prescription Infrastructure: Are We Ready for ePrescribing?

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn and Matthew Holt

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the prescribing infrastructure, explores whether the health system is ready for ePrescribing, and evaluates its potential impact on physicians and pharmacies.

January 2006

Doctors write more than 3 billion prescriptions each year with a combined value of over $221 billion. Within the complex and largely automated prescription drug industry, the information flow between physicians and pharmacies remains the only part of the process that is not managed electronically.

This CHCF-funded report provides a comprehensive overview of the prescribing process, including the organizational, financial, and technical elements that influence how prescriptions are handled today. It examines the issue of ePrescribing (eRx) —currently practiced by only 15% of physicians — including the opportunities it presents to streamline information management and the potential payoffs for both clinicians and pharmacies.

Although market and technology trends are adding to the momentum for the adoption of eRx, there are obstacles to the transition, including a lack of unified standards and an uneven distribution of related costs. The report concludes that if these challenges are addressed, there could be considerable potential benefits for doctors, pharmacies, and patients, including: money and time savings; staff and office efficiency; better patient safety; and improved compliance with formularies and chronic-care treatment programs.

The full report is available under Document Downloads.