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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 1, 2010

Technology hasn't improved doctors' awareness of drug costs, UH study finds

Advertiser Staff

Even with the use of health technology, few doctors in Hawaii are aware of the cost of medications they prescribe, which impedes their ability to consider drug affordability for their patients, according to research by a professor at the University of Hawaii medical school.

The study by Dr. Chien-Wen Tseng, an associate professor at the John A. Burns School of Medicine is being published electornically today in the American Journal of Managed Care.

Tseng surveyed 247 primary care physicians in Hawaii in 2007 to find out how often they knew patients' out-of-pocket costs for medications when they wrote prescriptions.

"Specifically, we hoped that physicians who regularly use health information technology in clinical care would have better knowledge of drug costs," Tseng said. "We found that only 1 in 4 physicians said they often knew drug costs, and rates weren't much higher even when physicians said they regularly used the internet, electronic medical records, or electronic prescribing for patient care.

"These findings make the point to policymakers and health insurers that even though we've spent a lot of money on technology, it hasn't necessarily been designed to easily provide cost information (e.g. out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions) to physicians and patients at the point of care."

On the Net:

A copy of the paper can be found at: http://ajmc.com/articles/managed-care/2010/2010-04-vol16-n04/AJMC_10aprTseng_eXc_e105to110.