With e-prescribing, doctors choose cheaper drugs

Physicians who have electronic access to their patients' formularies, including copays, are more likely to prescribe a less-expensive drug for Type 2 diabetes and hypertension, according to a survey from research and advisory firm Decision Resources.

Seventy primary care physicians, 70 endocrinologists, and 25 managed-care organization (MCO) pharmacy directors were polled for the report "E-Prescribing and Electronic Health Records: Impact of Technology on Prescribing for Hypertension and Diabetes."

"Physicians are now more acutely aware of MCOs' formularies and are therefore more likely to prescribe more favorably reimbursed drugs as well as better identify undiagnosed patients, sharply impacting their prescribing decisions for diabetes and hypertension therapies," the report states.

Physicians said they use e-prescribing for 76 percent of their Medicare patients and 79 percent of their non-Medicare patients. Roughly 60 percent of physicians said they have access to their patients' formularies through their e-prescribing program.

Eighty-four percent of MCO pharmacy directors said that with the information provided in e-prescribing solutions, physicians are prescribing drugs that cost patients less and have fewer restrictions.

The findings pose a challenge to makers of more expensive drugs, but through aggregating data from EHRs, pharmaceutical companies could win docs over with clinical evidence of their drugs' effectiveness, a company announcement says.

Nearly half of all U.S. physicians are using e-prescribing features in an electronic health record using the Surescripts network, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT reported in November. Just seven percent of U.S. physicians used e-prescribing in December 2008.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services instituted a new set of payment rules for hospitals, physicians and others by adding two hardship exemptions to the electronic prescribing program to recognize potential conflicts between that program and the Meaningful Use incentive program.

To learn more:
- find the report
- here's the announcement

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