e - Prescribing
Electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) is one of several key components to digital health technology. It involves the use of health care technology to allow a provider to electronically send a prescription directly to a pharmacy. This can lead to improved prescription accuracy, increased patient safety and lower costs while enabling secure, real time electronic connectivity between providers and pharmacies.
Patient safety is the primary motivation for the increasing use of e-prescribing. E-prescribing applications generate legible prescriptions and can check drug information databases for appropriate prescribing guidelines, the patient’s complete medication profile for drug interactions, and the patient’s electronic medical record (EMR) for disease contraindications.
When e-prescribing is fully implemented, prescribers find that efficiency increases as well. Many e-prescribing applications can auto-populate the prescriber’s commonly used medications with quantities and directions. Additionally, pharmacies have the capability to request refills electronically or ask routine questions via the application rather than calling the provider’s office.
Some of the tools can connect to the patient’s health plan to supply information as to whether a particular medication is part of the plan’s formulary, and if not, provide a list of formulary alternatives.
Patients receive benefits as well. Prescriptions electronically sent to pharmacies make it possible for patients to arrive at the pharmacy and have their prescription orders waiting for them. Refill orders are also streamlined and processed faster. Additionally, patients might be able to reduce their copayments because prescribers will have the patient’s health plan and formulary information available at the time of prescribing.
Although there several benefits related to e-prescribing there are still challenges. There are security and privacy concerns with the transmission of health information from one entity to another. However, most vendors continue to address this issue with advanced encryption technology. A bigger issue for practitioners is related to workflow. E-prescribing can be implemented through web-based services, e-prescribing software, or electronic medical record (EMR) systems. If the e-prescribing application is part of the EMR, there is less concern for workflow dilemmas. Lastly, errors are still possible. Having only partial access to the patient’s medications and medical conditions and/or having drop down menus that require manual entry of dosages can lead to mistakes.
E-prescribing has already become a large part of the health care technology and can continue to contribute to improved patient outcomes.
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