Use of E-Prescription Technologies Can Reduce Costs, Medication Errors, CHCF Report Finds
New e-prescription technologies can "significantly" reduce the costs and medication errors associated with physician prescription habits, but few companies that offer such products provide "practical, interim alternatives to more costly and complex integrated prescribing-writing solutions," according to a new report commissioned by the California HealthCare Foundation. The report, "Improving Drug Prescribing Practices in the Outpatient Setting: A Market Analysis," examined e-prescription products and organized them based on four categories: electronic prescription drug references; integrated prescription drug reference and formulary tools; e-prescription solutions and integrated electronic medical records; and e-prescription systems. The report, which examined 19 companies that provide e-prescription products, found that only four -- Allscripts, ePocrates, PocketScript and Wellinx -- offered products that support "physicians' needs to access information on thousands of drugs, correlate that information to a health plan's list of approved drugs or formulary, check for patient-specific drug-interactions, capture medical notes and ... electronically transmit a legible prescription" to a pharmacist. In addition, the report found that implementation of e-prescription technology "has been slow." Claudia Page, a program officer with CHCF, said, "If physicians in greater numbers start to use the tools available for drug prescribing, we believe it will contribute to reducing medication errors and lowering the total cost of drug spending, which increased 17% to $154.5 billion in 2001" (CHCF release, 11/12). The report is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.