Docs cite lack of formulary access as top e-prescribing bane

While e-prescribing is more popular among primary care physicians than it has ever been, certain aspects of the process continue to foil universal adoption — most notably, the limitations in formulary access, according to a recent report from SciMedica Group Marketing Research and Consulting.

Alongside formulary woes exists a difficulty in prescribing branded medications, with physician respondents indicating that it was far less nettlesome to e-prescribe generic options. For this reason, analysts expect pharma involvement in e-prescribing ventures to increase over time.

"Pharma wants to know what barriers exist to e-prescribing its products, software developers want to know how doctors rate their systems, and both want to optimize e-prescribing," said Ted Felix, president of SciMedica Group MR&C, in a news release. "With implementation of the Affordable Care Act and Medicare imposing a higher penalty on physicians who fail to transmit a target number of e-prescriptions annually, e-prescribing is poised to expand rapidly. This is the time to solve the problems."

SciMedica's E-Prescribing Syndicate report finds that in the physician’s quest for formulary access, prior authorization, co-pays and other utilization management requirements are often unavailable within current e-prescribing platforms. Less than half of the physician respondents claimed to have permissions regarding formulary information within their e-prescribing service and fewer than a third of those respondents cited access to prior authorization or co-pay information as well.

Other physician-relayed issues included:

  • the inability to e-prescribe controlled substances
  • technical difficulties transmitting e-prescriptions to pharmacies
  • problems caused by missing or inaccurate patient information

"These limitations have significant implications for the pharmaceutical industry," added Eric John, senior vice president of SciMedica Group MR&C, in a prepared statement. "If the formulary status of a drug is unavailable or inaccurate, physicians are more likely to prescribe a generic so the prescription isn't rejected at the pharmacy. As an alternative, they'll generate most of their prescriptions from a limited 'favorites' list that contains products they know won't encounter barriers. Both of these practices deter brand use." 

When queried as to how pharma could aid in the improvement of e-prescribing services, more than a third of physicians insisted that the industry should steer clear entirely; nearly half of the respondents said that pharma should partner with e-prescribing vendors to ensure accuracy and 34.5 percent thought that pharma should provide grants or loans for e-prescribing system installation.

Find more about the report here.