Study: E-prescribing improves medication adherence

Patients are more likely to pick up their prescription drugs when their physicians use e-prescribing to order them. Assuming they then take the drugs they've purchased, this trend should improve medication adherance, patient outcomes and reduce long-term healthcare costs.

That's the skinny from the latest study, conducted by Surescripts in collaboration with pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers. Researchers analyzed data sets representing more than 40 million prescriptions. Patient first-fill medication adherence was 10 percent higher when physicians used e-prescribing.

The study suggests that e-prescribing eliminates "prescription leakage" by patients who abandon their prescriptions. Prior studies indicate that as much as 28 percent of paper prescriptions never make it the pharmacy. The study also shows that e-prescribing can help physicians choose medications that are less expensive for the patient, which is another incentive to fill them.

"E-prescribing provides physicians with the patient's insurance and medication history information during a patient visit, which can lead to more clinically appropriate prescriptions with a lower out-of-pocket cost for the patient," said Ken Majkowski, vice president of strategy and innovation at Surescripts.

"When the doctor e-prescribes, the patient is more likely to know that the prescription has a lower out of pocket cost. When you combine this with the fact that it will be electronically routed to the pharmacy--which makes it more convenient for the patient and provides more information to the pharmacist--you have a great opportunity to improve medication adherence," he adds.

The company estimates that first-fill medication adherence rates will continue to improve as e-prescribing adoption and usage increase.

To learn more:
- read Surescripts' announcement