This is an interesting dilemma. At this point, I think everyone is pro e-prescribing even if it’s simply for the benefit of reducing errors. But, I think the original intent of the solutions were to do a lot more than reduce errors.
The hope was to improve adherence (which I think may have been too lofty). The idea was that e-prescribing would reduce the abandonment rate at the pharmacy. I’m not sure picking up a prescription is the same as taking a prescription. And, taking a prescription once isn’t the same as staying adherent over time.
Another hope was that the use of e-prescribing would drive formulary compliance and increase generic utilization. The idea was that putting this information in the hands of the prescriber would allow them to make more real-time decisions that were aligned with the consumer’s interests (i.e., lower out-of-pocket spend). The latest report doesn’t seem to support this at all. It also echos my prior posts about whether e-prescribing was aligned with pharma at all.
Fewer than half (47.5%) of the 200 PCPs polled said they have access to formulary information when e-prescribing, and fewer than a third said they have access to prior authorization (31.0%) or co-pay (29.5%) information. Among physicians with formulary information access, that information was available 61.1% of the time and was said to be accurate 68.6% of the time.
Physicians with an EMR (54.1%) were more likely to have access to formulary information than physicians without an EMR (29.6%). And differences were seen depending on the EHR vendor: Allscripts physicians (32.2%) were less likely to have access to this information than “All Other” software suppliers (60.5%), Epic physicians (62.5%) and eClinicalWorks (68.8%).
Another big effort that e-prescribing and integration with EMR was going to have was to push utilization management (UM) to the POP (point of prescribing) rather than having the pharmacy and the PBM dealing with it. I never really thought this would work. If the information isn’t there or they don’t trust the information, the prescriber isn’t going to want to deal with this. It’s already work that they let their staff handle and isn’t something they want to deal with during the patient encounter.
While e-prescribing is definitely here to stay and becoming the norm, the question is whether it’s creating simply a typed “clean” Rx to transmit electronically or whether it’s actually an intelligent process which will enable better care.
Given multiple studies and surveys recently about transparency in healthcare billing and the general push with Health Reform to drive to outcomes, I’m not sure the “dumb” system process can be a sustainable value proposition.