The number of providers able to e-prescribe controlled substances spiked 359% in 2015, according to data from Surescripts.
E-prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS) over the Surescripts network zoomed more than 600% in 2015, the health information network provider reports.
Such electronic prescribing has been hampered by a variety of factors such as more rigorous security requirements and physician concerns about implementation issues.
According to a report in the Annuals of Internal Medicine, overdoses due to opioid abuse quadrupled between 2000 and 2014. Current fatalities due to such overdoses now top 28,000 annually.
As a result, providers such as Surescripts and other EPCS providers have made implementing the technology a top priority. According to the Surescripts 2015 National Progress Report, released Tuesday, the number of providers enabled to use EPCS increased 359% in 2015.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid overdose is the number one cause of preventable death in the nation's drug abuse epidemic. EPCS plays a major role in allowing public health officials and regulators to identify patterns of prescription abuse both by patients and by providers.
Surescripts processed 9.7 billion e-prescribing transactions in 2015, a 48% increase over 2014, according to the report. Based on National Council for Prescription Drug Programs' total number of prescriptions, 77% of all U.S. prescriptions were digital in 2015, up from 67% in 2014 and 58% in 2013. Since 2012, Surescripts e-prescriptions have nearly doubled.
The report also ranks each state by its providers' readiness to e-prescribe. New York state leads the ranking, followed by Nebraska, Rhode Island, Michigan and Oregon. At the bottom of the ranking were Alabama, North Dakota, Arkansas, Mississippi and Hawaii.
Surescripts estimates that hospitals have saved more than $400 million in costs since 2010 by electronically transmitting medication histories over its network, helping to prevent more than 25,000 patient readmissions and more than 15,000 adverse drug events in 2015 alone.
According to the report, state e-prescriptions for antibiotics vary widely and most states exceed the US rate for antibiotic prescriptions.