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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Use of Electronic Prescription Refills Linked to Veterans’ Improved Health

In recent years, electronic personal health records (PHRs) have been increasingly adopted by hospitals, health plans, and other providers to improve the effectiveness of health care delivery and encourage patient self-management. A new study led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) found that veterans with HIV who used electronic prescription refills were more likely to have significant improvements in HIV viral load status (from “detectable” to “undetectable”) over three years than those who did not use the PHR.

Veterans with detectable viral loads in 2009 who used the electronic prescription-refill function between 2010 and 2012 had 1.36 times the likelihood of achieving undetectable viral loads in 2012, according to the study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. There was a similar association found regarding the use of another PHR function — secure messaging with providers — but it did not reach statistical significance.

“That the use of a PHR electronic prescription-refill feature was positively associated with undetectable viral load status in this vulnerable population is encouraging, in that it may indicate an augmentation of access to medications and providers,” the study says. “The PHR tools … may afford patients a greater sense of freedom to perform functions (such as) ordering refills and communicating with providers … and improve self-efficacy in addressing health-related tasks and challenges.

“We were pleased to find that using the electronic refill function was associated with improved viral control,” said lead author Dr. D. Keith McInnes, research associate professor of health law, policy & management at BUSPH and researcher at the Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford, MA.

To read more about the study, go to: