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Vermont Among the Top 10 States for E-prescribing

Release Date: 
August 2nd, 2012

Montpelier, VT – After running a successful campaign to encourage its health care providers to prescribe medications with electronic systems, Vermont has been ranked ninth in the country for the use of electronic prescribing. It is the first time that Vermont has been among the top 10 states for e-prescribing.

“Vermont has made a strong commitment to improving patient care by increasing the use of health information technology, and greater adoption of e-prescribing is the first step in that direction,” said David Cochran, MD, president and CEO of Vermont Information Technology Leaders, Inc. (VITL), a non-profit organization that assists health care providers with health IT. “E-prescribing increases patient safety because new medications are automatically checked for potential interactions with other drugs the patient is taking. Several other safety checks are run before the e-prescription is routed to the pharmacy.”

More than 1.3 million prescriptions were sent to pharmacies electronically in Vermont during 2011, according to Surescripts, the company that runs a nationwide e-prescription network and ranks states’ e-prescribing activity in its annual Safe-Rx Awards program.  The number of e-prescriptions in Vermont last year amounts to 47 percent of the total eligible prescriptions written in the state, up from 28 percent in 2010 and 12 percent in 2009.

At the end of last year, 988 Vermont prescribers were using e-prescribing technology -- or 73 percent of all prescribers practicing in the state. That number increased from 62 percent in 2010, according to Surescripts. Almost all Vermont pharmacies – 93 percent – accept e-prescriptions.

VITL played a substantial role in increasing the use of e-prescribing in Vermont, through its ePrescribe Vermont campaign. The multi-year effort, funded by a federal grant secured by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, provided free e-prescribing technology and training to Vermont prescribers. More than 200 prescribers participated in the program, sending 84,540 e-prescriptions to pharmacies in 2011.

E-prescribing activity in Vermont also increased sharply in 2011 because of VITL’s regional extension center for health IT program, which helps physician practices implement electronic health records systems. More than 900 Vermont primary care providers have signed up to work with VITL on switching to EHR systems and achieving “meaningful use” of those systems, which includes e-prescribing. About 70 percent of those providers have actually begun using their EHR systems.

“E-prescriptions will continue to increase in Vermont, as more prescribers begin using EHRs that have e-prescribing capability built in,” said Dr. Cochran. “With more than 90 percent of the state’s primary care providers making a commitment to using EHRs, soon the majority of prescriptions in Vermont will go to the pharmacy electronically rather than on paper.”

For more information on the Surescripts annual Safe-Rx Awards, visit www.surescripts.com.