Healthcare News & Insights

Study: More patients pick up medicine when it’s e-prescribed

Despite challenges that still lie ahead, some recent studies have shown that electronic prescribing can reduce errors and increase the likelihood that patients take their medicine. 

Patients are more likely to pick up their medication when it’s prescribed electronically, according to a recent study by Surescripts.

The e-prescribing network worked with pharmacies and benefit managers to examine more than 40 million records of paper, phoned-in, faxed-in and electronic prescriptions. New prescriptions were 10% more likely to be picked up by patients when they were sent electronically.

According to the study, just 73% of paper prescriptions are actually taken to a pharmacy and only 70% are picked up. E-prescribing helps increase pick-up rates because doctors can make sure the prescriptions get to the pharmacy.

Also, SureScripts says, many prescriptions aren’t picked up because patients aren’t prepared to cover their medication’s copay. But e-prescribing allows doctors to give patients that information during the visit.

Assuming those extra patients who pick up their medicine actually take it, that increase will lead to better care outcomes and could save the U.S. health system between $140 billion and $240 billion over the next 10 years.

Another recent study, published in PLoS Medicine, found that e-prescribing can significantly reduce prescription errors for hospital inpatients.

Researchers looked at procedural errors, such as incomplete or hard-to-read medication orders, and clinical errors, such as incorrect medications or dosages, in three hospital wards that implemented an e-prescribing system and three wards that did not. The errors were rated as minor or serious.

The results:

  1. Procedural prescribing errors dropped by 90% in the wards that used an e-prescribing system, and
  2. Serious clinical errors declined by 44% in the e-prescribing wards.

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