NASE News

E-Prescribing Decreases Medical Drug Spending, Study Says

Electronic prescribing systems can save more than $800,000 per 100,000 patients per year in medical drug spending, according to a report released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality of the Health and Human Services Department.

Researchers estimated that an e-prescribing rate of 20 percent could result in savings of $845,000 per 100,000 patients per year, with complete use of e-prescribing systems potentially saving $3.9 million per 100,000 patients per year. The data from the study reflected national e-prescribing rates of 7 to 10 percent, with e-prescribing systems used for only 212,000 out of 17.4 million prescriptions filled over the course of the study.

While doctors are often unaware of the most recent availability of lower-cost medications, e-prescribing systems that allowed doctors to choose generic or lower-cost medications for patients, such as those examined in the study, increased the chances for savings.

Although patient privacy remains an issue for privacy advocates and some legislators, supporters of e-prescribing cite safety and savings in time and patient frustrations as benefits.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, starting in 2009 physicians will be able to receive an extra 2 percent in Medicare payments if they prescribe electronically in at least 50 percent of the cases where it is possible. Additionally, starting in 2012 physicians who do not electronically prescribe in Medicare will face reduced Medicare payments.

The data used in the study was collected over 18 months from two Massachusetts health insurers, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Tufts Health Plan, by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

For more information on the study, please click here.