E-prescribing now accounts for 50% of the prescriptions in the country, Totonis says, and Surescripts is on track to process 6 billion transactions a year. He says that in the next five years, as that figure approaches 80% to 100%, Surescripts will tackle other aspects of adherence, such as whether refills are picked up or not.
Recently, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a rule that controlled substances could be prescribed electronically. In 2015, starting in New York state, e-prescribing will be mandatory for all controlled substances, and other states will be watching New York's progress, Totonis says. "The minute that every prescription goes electronically, and we take out the paper pad altogether, adherence now just becomes a much stronger case," he says.
Throughout the healthcare industry, medication management and adherence are sure to dominate much of the discussion about readmissions and other drivers of healthcare costs.
"It really is one of the industry's best opportunities to reach the largest number of consumers and patients and really impact one of the key drivers of healthcare: cost," says Frances Dare, a Dallas-based managing director of connected health services at Accenture, a global management consulting company.
"It's really across all patient populations, from the young to the elderly," Dare says. "It's people who are episodically ill just as much as it is people who are more chronically ill, and includes both over-the-counter medications and prescriptions and multiple medications. I think it's one of the biggest opportunities we have."
Still, as so often is the case, technology alone won't be sufficient, Dare says.
"We are on the journey of figuring out how this works," she says. "I do believe there is a wide range of capabilities—secure text messages that remind folks to take their meds or gamification—there's such a huge range out there that we really do have an opportunity to personalize for folks, or they have an opportunity to find a platform that really does meet their personal needs."
This article appears in the January/February 2014 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.