Patients report a preference for online educational options over traditional written information in era of healthcare consumerism

January 24, 2019

ROCKVILLE, Md. — More than half of consumers lack confidence in their ability to properly take new medications as directed, according to a survey released today by DrFirst, the nation’s leading provider of e-prescribing and patient medication management solutions. Among the consumers who had concerns about taking new medications correctly, two-thirds blamed their anxiety on a lack of time with physicians at the point of care.

The survey, which focused on patients with non-chronic conditions, also found that the least preferred format for educational information on medications is written materials. Overall, respondents would most prefer learning about a drug’s purpose and potential side effects from a short online video sent by their doctor or pharmacist via a link.

“At a time when most physicians are working at full capacity and have less time for face-to-face patient encounters, it’s critical that we seek alternative methods for educating patients about how to safely take new medications and about each drug’s potential side effects,” said G. Cameron Deemer, president of DrFirst. “Rather than rely on written hand-outs from doctors and pharmacists, we must take advantage of technologies like smartphones and patient portals to deliver impactful, customized details about prescribed medications.”

Saving money is priority – and high costs are detrimental to medication adherence

Another key finding was that most consumers are interested in reducing their out-of-pocket costs for prescription medications. That’s not surprising given that recently released analysis from the Office of the Actuary at CMS found that spending for retail prescription drugs reached $333.4 billion in 2017 – and that those rising costs represent 10 percent of overall healthcare spend.

According to the DrFirst survey, more than three-quarters of respondents reported trying to obtain coupons or drug discounts for a new prescription, either online or by asking their doctor or pharmacist. Further, 64 percent of consumers would take advantage of an opportunity to pre-pay for out-of-pocket prescription costs in order to receive a discounted price. These new findings are consistent with a previous DrFirst survey which revealed that 73 percent of consumers would change pharmacies if they knew it would save them money on a prescription.

Prescription drug pricing and medication adherence are strongly correlated, as noted in a 2017 Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll. That survey found that 67 percent of patients who failed to fill their prescriptions in the last 90 days reported high costs as the reason. These combined findings indicate that giving patients an option for coupons, discounts, or lower-priced pharmacies could drive medication adherence, reduce prescription abandonment and improve health outcomes.

Survey Details

Respondents to the online survey of 200 consumers were 40 percent male and 60 percent female. Eighty-three percent reported having health insurance. The largest age group represented was between 25 and 34 years old (35 percent), followed by 18-24 (22 percent) and 35-44 (18 percent). Respondents qualified for the survey only if they had filled at least one prescription in the last six months, with almost two-thirds reporting they fill a prescription medicine at least once a month.


About DrFirst

DrFirst, the nation’s leading provider of e-prescribing and medication management solutions, enables stakeholders across the healthcare industry to use comprehensive real-time data and connectivity to increase their patient safety ratings, efficiency, and profitability. Today, more than 170,000 healthcare professionals and more than 60% of electronic health record (EHR) vendors depend on DrFirst’s innovative software solutions to improve clinical workflows, expedite secure collaboration across a patient’s care team and drive better health outcomes. The company’s integrated technologies include its award-winning electronic prescribing platform, the most comprehensive medication history available, clinically specialized secure messaging, and patient medication adherence monitoring and benefits checking. In addition, DrFirst was the first to offer e-prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS) and is considered the industry standard for providers nationwide. For more information, please visit or connect with us @DrFirst.


DrFirst Media Contact:
Lisa Chernikoff
Amendola Communications