NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 3, 2008

The merger of the two largest electronic prescription networks in the United States  -- RxHub and SureScripts -- is expected to greatly benefit both patients and doctors, says E-Commerce Times.

For instance:

  • The two networks expect to transmit 100 million prescriptions online this year and field 70 million requests by doctors.
  • Having one integrated system gives doctors more information about patients' health insurance plans as well as related medical history.
  • The merger should also enhance safety, since the flow of prescription data is more timely and consistent than other clinical data.
  • A more comprehensive e-prescription network might eventually pave the way for greater adoption of automated personal health records (PHRs).

In general, the healthcare industry supports any move that expands and supports e-prescribing, says Devon Herrick, a senior fellow and health economist at the National Center for Policy Analysis. 

"Everyone agrees it improves safety as paper scripts can be hard to read, plus people can lose them," he said.

Also, these e-prescription platforms have built in error-checking safeguards to prevent a person from taking two prescriptions that might dangerously interact, Herrick added.  Integrating the two networks enhances that safety element.

Herrick also cautions that even if consumers jump on the PHR bandwagon, inspired by their e-prescription experience, that won't necessarily usher in widespread use of these documents.  Insurance companies are the primary underwriters of any huge investment made in this space -- and they have not exhibited much enthusiasm for these developments.

Source: Erika Morphy, "Merger Creates Mammoth Electronic Prescription Data Network," E-Commerce Times, July 1, 2008.

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