Pharmaceutical News
Cloud-based medication record system to save NT$5 billion on drug fees every year

Reported by Cui Zi-Ti from Taipei

Duplicate medication is one of the main factors causing the NHI financial problem.  Chang San-Cheng, the Vice Premier of the Executive Yuan, expressed that the government is promoting the application of big data in medical services.  For example, the MOHW launched a platform last year to allow patients to download their medication records so that they can avoid duplicate medications.  This platform saved NT$1.3 billion on drug fees last year, and another NT$1.3 billion in the first quarter of this year.  The MOHW estimated that the government could save up to NT$5 billion in total this year. 

Drug fees have been spiralling up since the implementation of the NHI.  In order to bring the prices of NHI-reimbursed drugs to a reasonable level, the NHIA regularly carries out a drug price and volume survey and, in 2013, started a 2-year pilot scheme of the drug expenditure target (DET) system.  Under the DET system, a drug price adjustment operation is activated when the drug expenditure in the previous year has exceeded the pre-set target.  The NHIA hoped the DET system could increase the transparency and the predictability of the drug price adjustment mechanism and control the growth of drug fees within a reasonable range. 

However, according to the National Audit Office, the actual drug fees exceeded the target in both years of the pilot DET scheme.  The drug fees were NT$160.5 billion last year, about 26.1% of the total health expenditures.

In the “2015 Big Data Forum” organized by the College of Management of the Taipei Medical University, Chang San-Cheng pointed out that the public can benefit greatly from the application of big data in medical services. 

Chang stated that the MOHW launched the cloud-based medication record system, which gives patients easy access to their own medication records.   Patients can download their medication records to a PC or an USB memory stick and show them to their doctors.  Though the MOHW was not sure about the actual number of patients using this service, the MOHW’s statistics revealed that after the introduction of this cloud-based service, drug fees was reduced by NT$1.3 billion in the second half of last year, mainly due to the cut in duplicate medication. 

Chang San-Cheng said that saving NT$1 billion each quarter is quite remarkable.  It will give the NHIA more resources to improve medical services, such as the caring for the victims of the recent dust explosion incident. 

【2015-08-17 / Commercial Times】