Digital Waste? Unintended Consequences of Health Information Technology

VATT Institute for Economic Research Working Papers 117

74 Pages Posted: 6 May 2019

See all articles by Petri Bockerman

Petri Bockerman

Labour Institute for Economic Research; University of Turku - Turku School of Economics

Mika Kortelainen

Government of the Republic of Finland - VATT Institute for Economic Research; University of Manchester

Liisa T. Laine

University of Pennsylvania - Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics

Mikko Nurminen

Turku School of Economics

Tanja Saxell

VATT

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 4, 2019

Abstract

We exploit a large-scale natural experiment - the rollout of a nationwide electronic prescribing system in Finland - to study how digitization of prescriptions affects pharmaceutical use and health outcomes. We use comprehensive administrative data from patients treated with benzodiazepines, which are globally popular, effective but addictive psychotropic medications. We find no impact on benzodiazepine use on average, but among younger patients e-prescribing increases repeat prescription use. Younger patients' health outcomes do not improve but adverse outcomes, such as prescription drug abuse disorders and suicide attempts, increase dramatically. Improving access to medication through easier ordering may thus increase medication overuse.

Keywords: health information technology, electronic prescribing, repeat prescriptions, inefficiency, medication overuse

JEL Classification: H51, H75, I12, I18

Suggested Citation

Bockerman, Petri and Kortelainen, Mika and Laine, Liisa T. and Nurminen, Mikko and Saxell, Tanja, Digital Waste? Unintended Consequences of Health Information Technology (April 4, 2019). VATT Institute for Economic Research Working Papers 117, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3365464 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3365464

Petri Bockerman

Labour Institute for Economic Research ( email )

FIN-00530 Helsinki
Finland
+358 9 2535 7332 (Phone)
+358 9 2535 7332 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.petribockerman.fi/

University of Turku - Turku School of Economics ( email )

Rehtorinpellonkatu 3
TURKU, FI-20500
Finland

Mika Kortelainen

Government of the Republic of Finland - VATT Institute for Economic Research ( email )

Arkadiankatu 7
P.O Box 1279
Helsinki, FIN-00531
Finland

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

Liisa T. Laine

University of Pennsylvania - Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

Mikko Nurminen

Turku School of Economics ( email )

Rehtorinpellonkatu 3
FIN-20500 Turku
Finland

Tanja Saxell (Contact Author)

VATT ( email )

Arkadiankatu 7
P.O Box 1279
Helsinki, FIN-00531
Finland

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