NHS Isle of Wight says it has cut its prescribing costs to more than 9% below the national average through the use of the ScriptSwitch prescribing advice tool.
ScriptSwitch was installed in all the practices on the island in 2007. The primary care trust estimates annual prescribing spend is now £3m-£5m lower than if no action had been taken.
The quality of prescribing has also improved. A local audit demonstrated 79% co-prescribing of calcium supplements with bisphosphonates, compared to 21-23% nationally. The PCT attributes this to the messages ScriptSwitch delivers on co-prescribing.
It says messages targeting patient education on inhaler technique have also helped to reduce emergency admissions for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by more than 50% and deaths by 75%.
Paul Jerram, head of medicines management at the PCT, said: “Clinicians are encouraged to swivel their computer screen to enable patients to see the ScriptSwitch messages that appear.
"ScriptSwitch then acts as a catalyst for patient involvement in discussions, which result in improvements in concordance. Consequently patients are able to better understand reasons for change, safety issues and even see personal messages from consultants."
The PCT says ScriptSwitch enabled more than 544,899 patient medications to be reviewed, resulting in 82,603 improvements to patient medications between January 2007 and December 2008, delivering savings of £790,431 from a potential of £3,495,768, at a cost of ownership of £94,094.
It says the next step will be to include enhanced benchmarking for GPs, who are requesting increased use of league tables and comparisons with colleagues to improve the quality of their prescribing.
ScriptSwitch will also be used in a variety of medicines management projects in 2009/10 including projects on mental health, cardiovascular disease, diabetes testing and treatment and antibiotic prescribing.