According to research published in Medical Care, the use of electronic prescriptions with diabetes patients is associated with a lower risk of emergency department visits or hospitalizations for diabetes-related adverse drug events.
According to the study, although the adoption of e-prescriptions among physicians has increased substantially under the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act and Meaningful Use programs, little is known of its impact on patient outcomes. For the study, which was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), researchers examined the impact of e-prescribing on emergency visits or hospitalizations for diabetes-related adverse drug events, including hypoglycemia.
The researchers studied 3.1 million Medicare fee for service, Part D enrolled beneficiaries over age 66 with diabetes mellitus and at least 90 days of antidiabetic medications. In order to examine the impact of e-prescribing, researchers focused on measuring e-prescribing as the percentage of all prescriptions a person received transmitted to the pharmacy electronically. The outcome measure was the occurrence of an emergency department (ED) visit or hospitalization for hypoglycemia or diabetes-related adverse drug events.
The study results indicated that diabetes patients with more than 75 percent of their medications prescribed electronically had 21 adverse drug events per 1,000 Medicare Part D beneficiaries. “Beneficiaries with lower e-prescribing levels had significantly higher numbers of adverse drug events,” the study authors wrote. “We found a robust association between the greater use of electronic prescriptions in the outpatient setting and the lower risk of an inpatient or ED visit for an adverse drug among Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes in our adjusted analysis. At the e-prescribing threshold of 75 percent and above, significant reductions in adverse drug event risk can be seen.”
As an observational study, the results show an association but do not prove causation, nevertheless, the study authors concluded that the use of e-prescribing is associated with lower risk of an ED visit or hospitalization for diabetes-related drug errors.