Use of e-prescriptions improves adherence, researchers find

Doctor using tablet

Use of electronic prescriptions increases the chances of patients collecting their prescription medicines, according to research published in JAMA Dermatology
(online, 26 October 2016).

Researchers carried out a review of medical records of patients who were newly prescribed dermatologic medication at a hospital outpatient clinic between January 2011 and December 2013.

A total of 4,318 prescriptions were written for 2,496 patients. Of these patients, 803 received their prescription electronically (i.e. the prescription was sent electronically to their nominated pharmacy) and 1,693 were given paper prescriptions.

The researchers found that 68.4% of all patients (n=1,798) filled and picked up all their prescriptions, leaving 31.6% (n=788 patients) who did not fill or collect their prescription. The risk of primary non-adherence was lower among patients given electronic prescriptions (15.2%) compared with patients given paper prescriptions (31.5%).

When researchers considered patient demographics, they found that primary non-adherence fell in patients aged over 30 years but increased in those aged 70 years or older. Hispanic patients had the highest full adherence rates of any racial/ethnic group in the study group, of which nearly half were Hispanic.

“We demonstrated that e-prescribing is associated with reduced rates of primary non-adherence,” the researchers say. “As the healthcare system transitions from paper prescriptions to directly routed e-prescriptions, it will be important to understand how that experience affects patients, particularly their likelihood of filling the prescriptions. Primary non-adherence is a common and pervasive problem. Steps should be taken to better understand why primary nonadherence happens and how it can be improved.”


[1] Adamson AS, Suarez EA & Gorman AR. Association Between Method of Prescribing and Primary Nonadherence to Dermatologic Medication in an Urban Hospital Population. JAMA Dermatol.  2016. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.3491

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, November 2016, Vol 297, No 7895;297(7895):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20201890

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