I like the little notepad my doctor uses to write prescriptions. But he’s one of a shrinking number who still use them.

New numbers from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT show that far more doctors are filing prescriptions electronically than in 2008.

As of the end of April, 70 percent of doctors say that they are using the e-prescribing function common in electronic health record (EHR) software to send prescriptions to pharmacies.

The prescription pad, the phone, and the fax machine have been the dominant means of writing prescriptions for most of medicine’s modern age.

Just 4 percent of new prescriptions and refills were filed electronically in 2008. By 2013, that number had risen to 57 percent.

The study points to the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA), which went into effect in December 2008, as the reason for the spike in e-prescribing. MIPPA provides doctors with financial incentives to use e-prescribing. Before MIPPA, only 7 percent of U.S. physicians used e-prescribing.

The HITECH Act also comes into play. That bundle of laws provided financial incentives (and penalties) to medical groups and hospitals to install electronic health records systems. It also requires them to use the EHR in a “meaningful” way, and e-prescribing is one of those ways.

“We believe that financial incentives can drive providers’ adoption and use of health information technology, such as e-prescribing, and that health information networks can be a powerful tool in tracking incentives’ progress,” the authors said.

Source: Fierce Health IT