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Health Information Privacy

Issue in Brief

E-prescribing, or the act of electronically transmitting prescriptions from health care providers to pharmacies and pharmacists, has been identified as a prime target to implement electronic health information exchange. As a general rule, state law governs the mode or method by which prescriptions for medications may be transmitted. It is unclear to what degree state law hinders or facilitates this type of exchange. Therefore, this project, led by Joy Pritts (formally at the McCourt School of Public Policy), was designed to provide an overview of state laws governing the transmission of prescriptions to determine what barriers these laws pose with respect to the adoption of e-prescribing. The project calls for research in multiple areas of the laws: electronic transmission of prescriptions, controlled substances, dispense as written, and miscellaneous provisions.

The O’Neill Institute contributed research for laws called: “Dispense as Written” or “Brand Necessary,” which outline the requirements for when a pharmacist has to dispense the brand name drug and when they are allowed to substitute a generic in its place. The O’Neill Institute completed legislative research for 50 states and three territories, analyzed trends in prescribing laws, and compiled the information into three comprehensive tables. The O’Neill Institute also drafted the relevant sections of an analysis report in May 2009 for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid on Privacy and Security Solutions for Interoperable Health Information Exchange: Report on State Prescribing Laws. Additionally, on June 25, 2009, the O’Neill Institute presented the main points of “Brand Necessary” laws for the Health Information Security and Privacy Collaboration (HISPC) webinar series.

Selected Publications

Pritts, Joy, Robin Jacobson, and Elenora E. Connors. Privacy and Security Solutions for Interoperable Health Information Exchange: Report on State Prescribing Laws: Implications for e-Prescribing. Edited by Linda L. Dimitropoulos. Health Information Security and Privacy Collaboration. Chicago: RTI International, 2009.

Thematic Area: Healthcare

Status: Completed

Project Personnel