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Study Finds Doctors' Use of E-Prescribing Systems Linked to Formulary Data Can Boost Drug Cost Savings
Date:12/9/2008

ROCKVILLE, Md., Dec. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) systems that allow doctors to select lower cost or generic medications can save $845,000 per 100,000 patients per year and possibly more system-wide, according to findings from a new study funded by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The finding may have important financial implications, the study authors concluded. As e-prescribing systems become more widely available and easier to use, their greater use among doctors is likely. Complete use of e-prescribing system with formulary decision support could reduce prescription drug spending by up to $3.9 million per 100,000 patients per year, according the study's authors.

The study findings come at a time when many insurers, policymakers, and patients are seeking ways to control fast-rising drug costs. To encourage the use of lower cost or generic drugs, many insurers are now using lists of approved prescription drugs known as formularies. Under these arrangements, patients are often charged the lowest co-payment for generic medications (tier 1), a higher sum for preferred brand-name drugs (tier 2) and the highest amount for non-preferred brand-name drugs (tier 3).

However, a major challenge to doctors' widespread use of tiered systems is the lack of current data on insurers' prescription drug formularies at the time of prescribing. Providing doctors with current lists of approved medications is challenging because the information changes frequently.

To test the cost-savings potential of an e-prescribing system that includes data on insurers' formularies, researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston compared the change in prescriptions written in three formulary tiers before and after an e-prescribing system was launched. The study examined data collected over 18 months from two major
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SOURCE Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality
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