Study of electronic prescribing rates and barriers identified among providers using electronic health records in New York City

Sam Amirfar, Sheila Anane, Michael Buck, Rachel Cohen, Steve DiLonardo, Phoenix Maa, Colleen McCullough, Marlena Plagianos, Claudia Pulgarin, John Taverna, Jesse Singer


Background Increased electronic prescribing (eRx) rates have the potential to prevent errors, increase patient safety, and curtail fraud. US Federal meaningful use guidelines require at least a 40% electronic prescribing rate.
Objective We evaluated eRx rates among primary care providers in New York City in order to determine trends as well as identify any obstacles to increased eRx rates required by meaningful use guidelines.
Methods The datawe analysed included automatic electronic data transmissions from providers enrolled in the Primary Care Information Project (PCIP) from 1 January 2009 to 1 July 2010 and follow-up telephone calls to a subset of these providers to identify potential barriers to increased eRx usage.
Results Over the course of the study, these providers increased the eRx rate from 12.9 to 27.5%, with an average rate of 24.1%. Conversations with providers identified their perceived barriers to increased eRx use as primarily patient preference for paper prescriptions and a belief that many pharmacies do not accept eRx.
Conclusions The data gathered from our providers indicate that there is an increasing trend in the eRx rate to 27.5% by July 2010, but still short of the 40% meaningful use level. However, obstacles to increased rates remain primarily providers' belief that many patients prefer paper prescriptions and many pharmacies are not yet prepared to accept electronic prescriptions.


electronic health records; electronic prescribing; medical errors; primary health care

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