E-prescribing might drive doctors to cheaper Rxs, study says

12/9/2008

CHICAGO Electronic prescribing may encourage doctors to choose cheaper drugs, according to a study published in the December issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston studied a program in Massachusetts whereby two large insurers worked with e-prescribing company Zix Corp. to have doctors use a system that ranked drugs by price according to color coding. Over the course of a year, prescriptions of cheaper drugs increased by more than 3 percent.

The researchers estimated that the system could save $845,000 per 100,000 patients per year, or 70 cents per patient every month.

“Our results suggest that there are important economic gains achievable through the broader use of e-prescribing with formulary decision support but that merely providing e-prescribing systems to clinicians will not necessarily achieve those savings,” the study’s authors wrote. “Rather, prescribers need to adopt the e-prescribing systems fully for these gains to be realized.”

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