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Effect of Electronically Delivered Prescriptions on Compliance and Pharmacy Wait Time Among Emergency Department Patients

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ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2012; 19:102–105 © 2012 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Objectives:  The primary objectives were to assess whether electronically delivered prescriptions lead to reduced pharmacy wait time, improved patient satisfaction, and improved compliance with prescriptions. Secondary objectives included determining other reasons for noncompliance and if there was an association between prescription noncompliance and subsequent physician and emergency department (ED) visits.

Methods:  In this prospective study, patients discharged from the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center ED with prescriptions for nonnarcotic medications were randomized to a control group who were discharged with standard written prescriptions or an intervention group who had their prescriptions electronically delivered to the pharmacy of their choice. All study participants were contacted 7 to 31 days after ED discharge for a structured telephone interview.

Results:  Of the 454 patients enrolled, follow‐up was successful for 224 patients (52.4%). Twenty‐eight patients did not fill their prescriptions (12.5% noncompliance rate). The top three reasons patients stated for not picking up their medications were perceiving their prescription as unnecessary (n = 11), medication affordability (n = 5), and lack of time (n = 4). There was no difference in primary prescription noncompliance between the two study groups (p = 0.58). However, electronically delivered prescriptions significantly reduced the median pharmacy wait time, from 15 to 0 minutes (p < 0.001), and improved patient satisfaction at the pharmacy (p = 0.034). Neither subsequent physician nor ED visits were increased by primary prescription noncompliance.

Conclusions:  Electronically delivered prescriptions significantly minimized pharmacy wait time and improved patient satisfaction at the pharmacy, but did not improve primary compliance with prescriptions.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: From the UCLA Emergency Medicine Center, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.

Publication date: January 1, 2012


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