Next time you go to the hospital or doctor's office, you may find the staff using a computer instead of pen and paper. Do not be upset, because the work they are doing is the first of several steps in a nationwide plan to enhance the process of healthcare by improving patient safety, reducing cost, and providing tools to you to help manage your care. E-prescribing is one of those steps.
It is estimated that over 4 billion prescriptions will be written in 2010 alone—constituting one of the largest paper based processes in the United States. From those prescriptions, there will be over 150,000 errors that lead to roughly 7,000 deaths. These errors are due in large part to illegible handwriting or missed drug interactions. E-prescribing is a logical solution that is looking to dramatically reduce these errors.
Benefits of E-prescribing:
The benefits of E-prescribing can be categorized into two areas, namely Consumer and Provider. Let's take a looks at both:
1) Convenience: It is estimated that 4 out of 5 patients walking into a doctor's office will leave with a prescription in hand. Consumers must then travel to pharmacies, drop off the paper slip, then wait (or come back) to pick up their prescription. With E-prescribing, the prescription is send electronically over a secure network to the patients preferred pharmacy—over 97% of chain pharmacies already participate.
2) Improved Medication Safety: Electronic prescribing has the potential to dramatically lower medication errors. By eliminating handwriting, pharmacies are able to better understand the prescription and thus dispense it to consumers with greater accuracy.
3) No Cost to Consumer: since E-prescribing has significant benefits at the provider level, installation charges will be absorbed by pharmacies and providers. This is great news for patients, and will aid in speeding along the adoption rate.
1) Convenience: While it may take more initial time to enter medical and prescription information into an EMR (Electronic Medical Record), quick follow up access should pay large long term dividends to most providers. As an added benefit, most E-prescribing systems can access a patient's insurance plan information. This means physicians can prescribe medications that are covered by the insurance carrier—thus avoiding pharmacy delays and calls.
2) Streamlined process: E-prescribing streamlines the communication process between the hospital /doctor's office and the pharmacy. This ultimately saves time by reducing phone calls from the pharmacy and the patient. Plus the provider can answer questions electronically for better record keeping
3) Improved Safety: No hospital or practice wants to make a mistake with a prescription. E-prescribing has built in medicine interaction software that helps find potential problems before the doctor sends the prescription—as well as making sure it is legible. Also, when E-prescribing is combined with EMR software, the patient's full medical history is available during the exam.