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Health researchers recently predicted that drug prescriptions via e-mail could cut US health care costs by $29 billion a year, according to the report Electronic Prescribing: Toward Maximum Value and Rapid Adoptionreleased by eHealth Initiative on April 14, 2004. eHealth Initiative, a Washington, DC, nonprofit group, said a nationwide e-prescription system could reduce confusion over illegible prescriptions. Also, an electronic system could prevent dangerous errors in medication doses and drug combinations.
The Center for Information Technology Leadership, a technology research organization that contributed to the report, found that $2 billion in savings would stem from reduced hospital and physician visits because of fewer prescribing errors. About $27 billion a year could be saved from fewer medication errors because an electronic system would curtail duplication and would also immediately inform physicians of less expensive generic alternatives, according to the report.
Out of the 3.7 billion prescriptions dispensed in the United States in 2003, researchers were informed of 8.8 million incidences of serious illness from drug errors, >3 million of which were preventable.