Healthcare Business News

Docs mindful of prescription costs when given electronic access: study

By Rachel Landen
Posted: March 14, 2013 - 3:15 pm ET

Endocrinologists and primary-care physicians use e-prescribing for 76% of their Medicare patients and 79% of their non-Medicare patients, according to a study conducted by research firm Decision Resources.

About 60% of these doctors say that within their e-prescribing program, they have access to their patients' full lists of medicines, or formularies. As a result, they suggest that they pay closer attention to patient prescription costs. About 80% of these endocrinologists and primary-care physicians say that, if given information about their patients' formularies and copays, they would prescribe less expensive/better-reimbursed options.

“The vast majority of physicians say their electronic health-records systems only have patient information from their own physician group, meaning they have incomplete information on their patients—this lack of shared information represents a shortcoming of current EHR adoption and prevents improved management,” Roy Moore, Decision Resources product manager, said in a release.

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Responses from pharmacy directors at managed-care organizations echo the findings from prescribing physicians. The report shows that 84% of these pharmacy directors have seen doctors favoring medications with lower patient costs and fewer restrictions when participating in e-prescribing programs. It creates a challenge, however, for marketers of branded drugs when physicians tend toward prescribing the best-reimbursed option.

“The ability of EHRs to aggregate data and allow for population health management—an underutilized feature today—will allow marketers of branded therapies to demonstrate the superiority of their products versus other competitors and generics,” Moore said. Physicians' and managed-care organizations' “desires to reduce costs and hospitalizations should make them receptive to clinical data showing therapies' effectiveness along these metrics.”

Burlington, Mass.-based Decision Resources, a member of Decision Resources Group, surveyed 70 primary-care physicians, 70 endocrinologists and 250 managed-care organization pharmacy directors. The company, which offers market research and advisory and consulting services to clients in the healthcare industry, released its report in February.

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