E-Prescribing Impact on Patient Safety, Use, and Cost (Massachusetts)


The purpose of this project was to evaluate the effects of a natural experiment in e-prescribing on uptake, and the impact on cost, safety, and quality. Approximately 7.4 million filled prescriptions, over 212,000 of which were e-prescriptions, were included in the study. Over 35,000 clinicians and over 1.5 million patients were identified with a filled prescription claim. Of these 1,198 clinicians wrote one or more e-prescription that was filled by 64,749 patients. To conduct the study, a pre-post with concurrent controls method was used, utilizing data from the deployment of an e-prescribing program by two large insurers in a northeastern state. Data on paid medical was used and pharmacy claims data coupled with data from the e-prescribing vendor to identify filled prescriptions written / not written during our study period (2003 through the first quarter of 2005). These data were used to evaluate prescribing for each physician in our sample before and after they began e-prescribing. Evaluation of e-prescribing uptake showed steadily increasing use of e-prescribing over the study period. E-prescribing with formulary decision support led to the use of lower-priced medications. Early results also indicated that patients getting e-prescriptions had less severe potential drug-drug interactions among their dispensed medications.

Grant Number: 
R01 HS015175
Funding Mechanism: 
Demonstrating the Value of Health Information Technology
AHRQ Funded Amount: 
Principal Investigator: 
Weissman, Joel
Massachusetts General Hospital
Project Dates: 
September 30, 2004 to December 31, 2007
Project Status: 

Project Categories

Type of Health Information Technology: 
Clinical Information Systems
Mobile Device
Care Setting: 
Aspect of Care: 
Chronic Disease Management
Medication Management
Target Population: 
Chronic Care
Coronary Artery Disease
Last Modified: August 2015

News and Publications

Weissman J. E-Prescribing Impact on Patient Safety, Use, and Cost - Final Report. (Prepared by: Massachusetts General Hospital under Grant No. R01 HS015175). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2008. (PDF, 372.31 KB)
The findings and conclusions in this document are those of the author(s), who are responsible for its content, and do not necessarily represent the views of AHRQ. No statement in this report should be construed as an official position of AHRQ or of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Project Activities