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Surescripts Annual Report on Electronic Transactions

By August 19, 2016Commentary

Surescripts operates the nation’s largest health information exchange, largely around drug data.  The company is owned by PBMs and pharmacies and facilitates electronic prescribing, sharing of medication histories, prior authorization and other electronic transactions.  Performing these electronically saves substantial amounts of money compared to paper or fax-based methods.  Surescipts issues an annual report which summarizes its work.   (Surescripts Report)  In 2015, it processed 9.7 billion transactions, up 48% from 2014.  E-prescriptions accounted for 1.4 billion of these transactions and have doubled since 2012.  One billion medication histories were also shared over the network.  This is particularly important as it can avoid duplicate prescribing and allow for avoidance of inappropriate prescribing or drug interactions.  Over one million health care professionals used the Surescripts network for electronic transactions in 2015.  A new area of focus with significant growth was the long-term care market–nursing homes.  Controlled substances is another area of growth, with e-prescriptions up over 600% as many states move to allow e-prescribing of these restricted drugs.  E-prescribing of opioids can actually help track potential abuse and overuse. Another issue which electronic drug transactions can help with is medication adherence.  According to the company, around 30% of all paper prescriptions are abandoned before being picked up, largely due to cost issues.  E-prescribing allows for faster intervention to identify why the patient isn’t filling the prescription and to offer help.  Although it was somewhat slow to fully implement the capability, Surescripts now offers electronic prior authorization, which can dramatically reduce providers’ administrative work.  The Surescripts network provides significant value, but in some ways is underutilized.  It connects the largest number of health plans, providers of all types, PBMs and other health system participants and could be used for information exchange and transactions beyond just medications.

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