Prescription for Change: New Survey Shows ePrescribing Connecting with its Biggest Skeptics -- Physicians
As Medicare Legislation on Technology Gains Momentum, Physicians Trumpet the Value of ePrescribing in Significantly Improving Patient Safety and Quality of Care
DETROIT, Feb. 27, 2008 – Efforts to expand the use of ePrescribing technology received an important boost from new research released today showing ePrescribing receives high marks from constituents whose opinion about the technology may count the most – physicians.
A major obstacle to widespread adoption of ePrescribing has been perception of physician resistance. But a new survey of 500 physician practices that have participated in a three-year pilot program demonstrates that a large majority of doctors and their staff who use the technology believe that it allows them to practice safer and better medicine.
According to the survey conducted by HaldyMcIntosh & Associates for the Southeastern Michigan ePrescribing Initiative (SEMI), three out of four prescribers believe strongly that ePrescribing improves safety for their patients, and nearly 70 percent say it improves the quality of care. One of the important benefits of ePrescribing cited by physicians is the safety alerts that warn of potentially harmful drug-drug interactions and drug-allergy risks at the time of prescribing. Nearly 65 percent of physician ePrescribers reported at least one incident of changing a prescription in response to a safety alert received through the system – a strong statistic demonstrating that ePrescribing can help prevent against dangerous and costly adverse drug events.
SEMI is a broad coalition that includes General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Chrysler LLC, the United Auto Workers (UAW), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Health Alliance Plan, Henry Ford Medical Group, Medco Health Solutions, Inc., CVS Caremark Corporation, RxHub, LLC and SureScripts®. The survey polled physician practices participating in the SEMI program to gain insight into their attitudes toward and experience with ePrescribing.
Survey results show that more than 70 percent of respondents are very satisfied with ePrescribing technology. More than 80 percent of all prescriptions written by those polled are currently done electronically, and four out of 10 now only write ePrescriptions.
"As a participant in SEMI, I experienced firsthand the valuable benefits of ePrescribing, and it is encouraging to see that my fellow physicians are also recognizing this value and embracing the technology," said Steven D. Grant, MD, FACP, president /CEO, United Physicians, PC. "If more physicians take the leap and implement ePrescribing into their practices, they will see that ePrescribing can be an important partner in providing safe, high quality care for patients."
Past concerns voiced by physicians hesitant to adopt ePrescribing technology include the difficulties and time demands of learning a new technology and questions over its usefulness. Findings from the survey could help assuage those concerns:
- For nine out of 10 surveyed, ePrescribing met or exceeded their expectations.
- More than 70 percent saw a reduction in communications with pharmacies over prescription questions; for 40 percent, the reduction was substantial. Research shows that physicians typically spend more than three hours a day handling phone calls and extra work from prescription issues.
- More than half strongly agree that ePrescribing saves clinicians time and increases productivity.
Based on the survey findings, the SEMI partners will extend the initiative and continue to enroll physicians through June 30.
"We are encouraged by these survey results which show overwhelming physician approval," said Kate Kohn-Parrott, director integrated health care and disability, Chrysler LLC. "Patient safety and cost benefits from the Southeastern Michigan ePrescribing Initiative are already well-documented. With physicians reporting productivity improvements and their satisfaction with the program, e-Prescribing is moving closer to more universal acceptance."
While respondents widely agree on many important benefits of ePrescribing, there is less of a consensus when it comes to cost savings. Two out of three of those polled report being more likely to prescribe a generic or plan-preferred drug when using an ePrescribing system. However, one in four physicians believe that the technology may not reduce costs for their patients or their practice.
"We know that ePrescribers are more likely to engage in cost-savings practices, such as prescribing a lower-cost alternative, and in some cases it may mean a substantial reduction in a patient's costs," said John Driscoll, president of new markets for Medco. "What is striking about these survey findings is that physicians who make the transition to ePrescribing become big fans of what the technology does for their practice and their patients, and it's important that we continue to work toward changing the perception among doctors who are not making that connection."
Results released in 2007 from the SEMI program support the survey findings that ePrescribing improves safety and formulary compliance. A review of 3.3 million electronic prescriptions written by physicians participating in SEMI showed the following:
- When a formulary alert was presented, the physician changed the prescription 39 percent of the time to comply with formulary requirements.
- There were more than 1 million alerts sent on moderate to severe drug-to-drug risks, resulting in nearly 423,000 (41 percent) of those prescriptions being changed or canceled by the prescribing doctor.
- More than 100,000 medication allergy alerts were presented, of which more than 41,000 (41 percent) were acted upon.
Susan Schwandt, APR
Public Relations Director
Tiffany Baker, MA
Public Relations Specialist