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E-Prescribing Growth Could Bode Well for Med Adherence

The technology improves the rate at which patients actually pick up a new prescription at the pharmacy.

Patients picked up their meds 69.5% of the time among physicians who telephoned in, faxed, or hand-wrote new prescriptions, according to a 2011 Surescripts study of some 40 million prescription records between 2008 and 2010. Among physicians who e-prescribed between 30% and 40% of the time, this “first fill” rate rose to 76.5%, or by 10%, according to Surescripts, which operates a nationwide network connecting the computer systems of physicians and pharmacies.

One problem with paper scripts is that too many patients either lose or otherwise abandon them. Going untreated, these patients get sicker and rack up higher medical expenses down the road. Surescripts estimates that a 10% increase in first-fill rates combined with other e-prescribing efficiencies could save between $140 billion and $240 billion over the course of 10 years.

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