Writing is on the wall for doctors’ e-prescriptions

The move to get doctors to file prescriptions electronically is gathering steam and may get a further boost from new Medicare rules that give doctors money to go electronic — and take it away if they don’t.

From 2004 to 2007, e-prescriptions increased from 700,000 to 35 million, according to the company that routes e-prescriptions from doctors’ offices to pharmacies, Pharmacy Health Information Exchange operated by SureScripts. Still that only amounts to about 6% of U.S. doctors who regularly sent e-prescriptions in 2007.

The government is hoping to change that…

…But privacy advocates warn of problems.

Transforming prescriptions from scrawl into a standardized electronic format can make them even easier for pharmacies to sell and trade, violating patient privacy, says Tim Sparapani, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Any time you put something in a digital format and standardize it, it becomes much more profitable and easy to move those records,” he says.

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