Physicians are switching their practices to adopting medical software solutions to run their offices more productively and efficiently. The electronic prescribing system is one such technology framework that has changed the way in which healthcare providers operate within the pharmaceutical world. E-prescription was brought into the limelight in the year 2003 and has rapidly evolved as a viable tool to accommodate the intricacies of the US healthcare system.

What is E-prescription?

E-prescription allows prescribers and patients to utilize an electronic prescription instead of traditional, old-fashioned paper-based prescriptions. Simply put, an E-prescription is a digital version of the paper prescription. With E-prescription healthcare providers can generate and send a prescription order to the pharmacy electronically instead of handwritten notes.

The many benefits of E-prescription

  • Improved safety: A 2006 report by the Institute of Medicine estimated that 1.5 million Americans are injured or killed due to medication errors. This is mainly due to pharmacists misreading the medication or dosage information on handwritten prescriptions. E-prescription reduces the risk of medication errors associated with poor handwriting by facilitating the exchange of prescription information electronically.
  • Instant system alerts: E-prescription provides complete access to the patient’s previous prescription history with just a click of the button. This alerts the prescriber of potential problems like allergies, drug interactions, duplicate therapies and other issues.
  • Meets “Meaningful Use” criteria: E-prescription enables the prescribers to meet the “meaningful Use” requirements in the following manner. Stage 1 requires physicians to use E-prescriptions for 40% of their orders, stage 2 for more than 50% and stage 3 for more than 80%.
  • Keep track of prescription fulfillment: The E-prescription system helps physicians track whether patients have picked their refill or not. This allows physicians to know which patients are adhering to the drug regimens and which have ceased taking the recommended medications. With this information physicians can help them get back on track.
  • No more lost prescriptions: Hand-written prescriptions could be lost or misplaced, making it inconvenient for both physicians and patients. E-prescriptions are sent electronically to the pharmacist. Hence there is no question of lost or misplaced prescriptions.
  • Better convenience: There is no need for the patient to carry the prescription to the pharmacy and wait until the prescription is filled. The physician may send the electronic prescription during the patient’s visit itself, and the pharmacy can begin filling it before the patient even leaves the office. So, when the patient arrives the medicines will be ready for pickup.
  • Reduces risk of fraud: E-prescriptions help to reduce potential fraud or tampering incidents as the prescription orders are sent directly to and viewed only by the pharmacists.
  • Ease of access to patient information: E-prescription is not only useful from a drug prescription point of view, but also helps to pull all relevant patient information. This means that the E-prescription system not only serves as a drug prescription portal, but also as a complete patient database.
  • Prescribe and monitor controlled substances: Some e-prescription systems allow prescribing of controlled substances to pharmacies in the same way as legend drugs. This makes it easier for states to track information across several pharmacies to ensure legitimate use of controlled substances.
  • Reduces readmissions: Nearly 20% of patients who are re-hospitalized within 30 days of discharge are related to adverse drug events. As the e-prescription system is built with safety features to alert on drug allergies and duplicate therapies it significantly reduces adverse drug events.
  • Saves costs: All of the above benefits can result in significant cost savings for a healthcare practice that uses the e-prescription system. The amazing benefits of e-prescription such as improved patient outcomes and reduced patient visits have helped healthcare practices save between $140 billion and $240 billion over the last 10 years. The cost savings will continue to increase in the coming years as e-prescription systems advance and pharmacies get more used to handling them.

E-prescription is not just generating a prescription on a computer and printing it out or faxing it to a pharmacy. It’s more than that. E-prescription increases the safety and efficiency of the healthcare facility and the convenience of patients. Various studies also report that e-prescription systems can save time and ultimately money for the practice while improving patient outcomes. To sum up, E-prescription takes the process of filling prescriptions to a new level – faster, more precise, and safer than ever before.

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