Clunky data-management tools and the juice not being worth the squeeze in obtaining information were cited as the two main barriers to the use of electronic prescribing systems in a Center for Studying Health System Change study of 24 physician medical-group practices.
The research, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, found that physicians in most of the survey group's medical practices had access to patient formulary information, but just slightly more than half could access patient medication histories using their e-prescribing systems. The researchers found that many physicians "did not routinely review these sources of information when making prescribing decisions."
Respondents cited two key barriers to use of e-prescribing systems, according to the report: cumbersome tools to view and import data into patient records, and data "not always perceived as useful enough to warrant the additional time to access and review them, particularly during time-pressed patient visits."
According to Joy Grossman, principal investigator and senior health researcher at the Washington-based not-for-profit center and lead author of the report, "Physician Practices, E-Prescribing and Accessing Information to Improve Prescribing Decisions," the study relied on 114 interviews conducted in 2010. Survey subjects included representatives of 24 physician practices, 48 community pharmacies and three mail-order pharmacies actively transmitting and receiving prescriptions via an electronic prescribing network, Grossman said.
Not surprisingly, physicians in practices with greater access to complete and accurate data and those with easier-to-use e-prescribing systems were more likely to use these features consistently, she and fellow researchers concluded.
"What's interesting about it is that e-prescribing is one of the more advanced technologies, so it presents an interesting challenge for the broader implementation of EHRs ahead," Grossman said in a phone interview.