E-prescribing PDAs save millions for Mississippi Medicaid

Mississippi’s Medicaid program is saving about $1.2 million per month in prescription costs as a result of equipping 225 doctors with handheld e-prescribing devices.

State officials say the system not only reduces medication costs, it also increases the quality of care for patients. That's because doctors have access to patients’ recent medication histories and can avoid prescribing medicines that would interact with ones they are already taking.

In addition, doctors can find out whether patients are filling and refilling their prescriptions. This allows them to detect when patients’ continued poor health is due to noncompliance with the doctors’ treatment plans.

Prescribers who use the handheld devices write fewer prescriptions on average, state officials said, and those prescriptions are likely to cost the state less.

After 18 months of steady savings, the Mississippi Division of Medicaid is negotiating with its contractor to expand the e-prescribing program, officials said.

Besides cutting drug costs, the state is saving nearly $27,000 a month on hospitalizations avoided because the doctors are getting real-time alerts about drug interactions, they said.

The program costs the state about $35,000 per month, so the hospitalization savings come close to covering the cost of the handheld devices from Informed Decisions, based in Tampa, Fla.

Florida has launched a similar program, with comparable results.

Asked whether there was any negative aspect to the program, Mississippi officials said they knew of none.

“I can see which medications patients are taking regardless of who prescribed them. As a result, we are now able to keep comprehensive, up-to-date medication lists for all our patients,” said Dr. Kurt Bruckmeier, who cares for about 200 Medicaid beneficiaries through Pacific Physicians Services in Hattiesburg, Miss. “It has also helped identify drug abusers who would very likely have gone undetected were it not for our ability to evaluate the full scope of prescriptions they were taking.”

About the Author

Nancy Ferris is senior editor of Government Health IT.

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