A study of de-identified pharmacy data finds patient-first-fill medication adherence--the number of times a patient actually fills a new prescription--increases by 10 percent when the prescription is electronic.

E-prescribing network vendor SureScripts conducted the study with pharmacies and pharmacy benefit management firms. A 2010 study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that up to 28 percent of paper prescriptions are not brought to the pharmacy. Other times, patients are unprepared for the amount of their co-pay when they fill the prescription and abandon the prescription at the pharmacy, meaning they elect not to buy it, according to a 2010 study in the Annuals of Internal Medicine. That study showed patients with a co-pay of $40 to $50 were 3.4 times more likely to abandon the prescription; 4.68 times more likely if the co-pay was more than $50.

In contrast, e-prescribing offers clinicians information on the patients’ insurance coverage and medication history at the point of prescribing, enabling them to often select appropriate medications with a lower price, according to SureScripts.

The vendor notes that previous studies have shown that e-prescriptions have a higher abandonment rate than paper prescriptions. SureScripts’ new study confirms that but finds the reason is because more e-prescriptions make it to the pharmacy in the first place. “Our study suggests that, compared to the true abandonment rate of paper prescriptions, e-prescriptions are actually abandoned at a far lower rate,” says Ken Majkowski, PharmD and vice president of strategy and innovation at SureScripts.

More information on the study is available at surescripts.com.

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