Healthcare News & Insights

Health IT can save billions with medication improvements, study says

The healthcare system loses billions of dollars a year due to prescription errors and poor medication adherence. But health IT can help, says a new report. 

A lot can be done to improve the safety and effectiveness of medicine, according to a recent report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. Common problems related to medicine include patients not adhering to their drug treatment plans, prescription errors and a failure to make the most of generic drugs.

Improving those areas would improve care and patient safety and could save the worldwide health care system $475 billion a year, IMS estimates. That includes money saved by improving wellness and preventing hospital admissions.

The biggest chunk of that money could be saved by improving medication adherence — IMS says that could save the health system $269 billion annually, or more than half of the total estimate.

What can health care providers do to get more patients to take the medication that’s prescribed to them? Greater use of health IT can have a big impact. For example, patients are more likely to pick up their medications when they were prescribed electronically, according to a study from e-prescribing vendor Surescripts earlier this year. Likely reasons are that doctors can make sure their e-prescriptions get to the pharmacy, and that e-prescribing allows doctors to give patients information about their copay so they’re prepared to cover the cost when the medicine is picked up.

Health care providers can also offer electronic reminders for patients to take medication via emails, text messages or smartphone applications. In one recent survey, the majority of patients said they wanted electronic reminders from their doctors and agreed that it could improve their health.

IMS also recommends health care providers give patients more information about their medications. Patients may avoid taking drugs because of fears or misconceptions they may have, so the more information they’re given, the more likely they are to stick to the treatment plan.

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