Michigan ePrescribing Program Shows Positive Results

March 5, 2008
Pharmaceutical Executive
Volume 0, Issue 0

A review of a pilot ePrescribing program reveals that if physicians are given the proper support, the technology can increase safer prescribing habits and boost compliance.

The Southeastern Michigan ePrescribing Initiative (SEMI)—a consortium of automakers, payers, pharmacies, and insurance companies—last week released a review of its massive ePrescription pilot program, which has been used by nearly 3,000 physicians to write approximately 7.5 million prescriptions in the past three years.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents stated that e-prescribing has been a beneficial tool in their practices. Another 65 percent said that they altered their prescribing habits based on instant adverse-reaction alerts, a feature of the system.

The most salient finding: Forty percent of the physicians enrolled in the program have completely switched from paper prescriptions to the electronic format.

Other notable findings:

  • When a formulary alert was presented, the physician changed the prescription 39 percent of the time to comply with formulary requirements.
  • More than 1 million alerts were sent regarding 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.

"The biggest hurdle to implementing ePrescription programs is convincing the doctors that there are benefits in patient safety and workflow," explained John Driscoll, president for new markets at Medco Health Solutions. "There have been a lot of attempts to drop technology into doctors' offices without transition support or the ability to integrate the entire system, and I think that it's a valid challenge for doctors. Physicians are looking for a program that works with all of the systems and that they can figure out how they can use."

The program serves more as a managed care solution rather than a pharmaceutical brand initiative. However, it gives pharma companies more insight into efficacy of care. Real-time alerts built into the e-prescribing systems notify doctors of adverse event and safety information, so the time between when a warning is issued to when a doctor receives a letter is significantly shortened.

Driscoll said, "If we can take the critical things from SEMI—getting the entire community involved and supporting the doctors through the transition—we can dramatically lower costs and improve outcomes for hundreds of millions of people who are currently at risk because the drugs they are taking could have adverse effects."