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Published On: Thu, Oct 1st, 2015

E-Prescribing’s Rapid Increase around the World

A new market report released by Persistence Market Research has indicated that the global e-prescribing market will reach an estimated value of around 888 million USD by 2019. This growth is driven by a number of countries around the world that are experiencing rapidly expanding e-prescribing markets locally, North America and Europe in particular.

Using e-prescribing software, prescribers such as doctors and other medical professionals can access patient information, medication history, and prior authorisations for medication, as well as information from the drug formulary to inform their prescription decisions. The end goals are to replace paper used by prescribers and pharmacies with the e-prescribing software, and to set up transmission networks that can link the prescribers with pharmacies for information sharing purposes.

North America is currently the big emerging market for e-prescribing, with improving health infrastructure and increased availability of e-prescribing systems driving the change. In the US e-prescribing programs such as Surescripts (one of the largest e-prescribing networks in the US) have noted the numerous benefits of e-prescribing, as “exchanging prescription information electronically between prescribers and pharmacies improves accuracy and saves time, from reduced phone calls and faxes related to prescription renewal authorizations, as well as a reduced need for staff to enter prescription data manually”.

The benefits of the system are clear, and while North America continues to grow, it is Europe that still leads the way with the largest e-prescribing market overall, and significant headway being made in the establishment of eHealth infrastructure in the region. The European Patient Smart Open Services (epSOS) is one key example of this infrastructure, with electronic patient summaries for health practitioners and e-prescriptions forming the two primary foundations of the epSOS system.

E-prescribing’s success in Europe is driven in particular by the Scandinavian countries, with their success acting as a model for other European nations. UK National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence (NICE) director of policy Kalipso Chalkidou notes that the Scandinavian countries have experienced such rapid innovation due to excellent quality registers when testing new devices or systems. “The Scandinavians are very good at setting up registers,” Chalkidou says.

“This helps them collect a lot of evidence to see which devices are failing more often and which are working.” The UK market hopes to follow suit and take advantage of their maturing healthcare systems to move towards more innovative solutions such as e-prescribing.

photo Emuishere Pelicula via Flickr

photo Emuishere Pelicula via Flickr

It is not just North America and Europe who are growing, however. The Asian market is also on the rise, accounting for a 24% share of the global market, and is expected to grow with Government encouragement to adopt the new technology. Increasing demand for IT solutions at point-of-care decision making is driving the change, along with an increasingly competitive corporate market in the sector.

Increased adoption of e-prescribing systems will bring numerous benefits, such as improving practitioner performance and reducing mistakes. Reducing mistakes is extremely important, and according to a UK legal team, in the UK, 1 out of 20 prescriptions has at least one error. In the US, a study revealed that children’s medication errors occur every 8 minutes. The ability of practitioners to query for relevant data quickly and easily will allow them to also tie patient safety considerations with research data in a more cost-efficient and thorough manner. The benefits are not only for patients and practitioners, with pharmacies more able to be informed quickly of discontinued or cancelled prescriptions, and cost savings will be able to be made when time spent mediating between pharmacy benefit managers and prescribers is significantly reduced.

There are a number of challenges still facing the market, with high up-front costs and concerns about patient privacy and IT issues impeding the growth of the e-prescribing sector. Practitioners have already been burned once: in early 2015 a major IT failure left numerous pharmacists unable to access their electronic prescription service over the busy Easter period, which left doubts in many minds about the reliability of the e-prescribing system. In addition, in rural areas prescribers and pharmacies may not have access to high-speed broadband facilities or IT professionals at all, which creates significant barriers to setting up the systems initially.

Overall, the e-prescribing market is one where growth comes with numerous benefits for all parties, and despite upfront costs and several hurdles the market will continue to grow.

Guest Author: Jose Calvo

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