Improving Drug Prescribing Practices in the Outpatient Setting: A Market Analysis

Melissa Buckley, Director, Innovation Fund


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This is archived content; for historical reference only.

Doctors must deal with a staggering amount of drug information. In 2002, more than 17,000 pharmaceutical brands were available in North America, and 1,500 new products and indications were slated for FDA approval for the following three years. More than 10,000 articles are published annually on randomized clinical trials and, on average, doctors have more than 16 managed care contracts with related formularies.

The lack of accurate, easy-to-access drug reference and formulary information at the point of care, and a reliance on handwritten prescriptions, leads to prescribing problems in several areas, including patient safety, prescribing efficiency, and drug costs. Recent technology allows doctors to carry prescribing information into the clinical setting, in handheld devices that hold thousands of pages of up-to-date information. Despite volatility in the technology sector, electronic tools continue to hold promise in addressing problems related to health care costs, safety, and care, particularly in the area of drug-prescribing practices.

This 2002 report examines e-prescribing products and organizes the technologies into four categories based on functionality:

  1. Electronic drug references;
  2. Integrated drug reference and formulary tools;
  3. E-prescribing solutions; and
  4. Integrated electronic medical records and e-prescribing systems.

Each of the four categories is rated as low, moderate, or high on efficiency, lowering costs, improving patient safety, ease of implementation, affordability, and stability and use in the market. The results provide potential buyers with an easy way to assess the range of options and implementation considerations.