Physicians' awareness of drug costs unimproved by new technology

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Apr 1, 2010

A new research study shows that even with the use of health information technology, few Hawai’i physicians are aware of the cost of medications they prescribe, and this impedes their ability to consider drug affordability for their patients.
The study by Chien-Wen Tseng, MD, Associate Professor at UH Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, is published electronically today in the American Journal of Managed Care.
Dr. Tseng surveyed 247 primary care physicians in Hawai‘i 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.  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.” said Dr. Tseng, a member of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.
“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,” she said. 
Dr. Tseng is with the UH Mānoa JABSOM Department of Family Medicine and Community Health and is also a physician investigator with the non-profit Pacific Health Research Institute.  This study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.