Physician offices using electronic prescriptions or ePrescriptions report numerous advantages over traditional methods of medication management. The transition to an ePrescription system doesn’t have to be difficult and only a few changes to practice management tasks will be necessary to get the new system up and running.
Assessment – The first part of practice management to be affected is the doctor’s decision making process. Since ePrescription systems are implemented as part of a larger electronic medical records (EMR) suite, the physician has more information available regarding a patient’s history, diagnoses, medical tests, allergies and other current prescriptions. The wealth of information allows physicians to decide on the optimal medication for the patient and minimized the risk of dangerous drug-drug or drug-disease interactions.
Prescription – The most obvious change to practice management doctors will see when implementing ePrescriptions is the medication order itself. Rather than writing the information on a prescription pad, the prescription will be entered into the computer. In addition to the information above, the physician has access to the patient’s drug formulary list so can be sure to prescribe a medication covered by insurance. Many ePrescription applications give access to medication references in case the doctor needs to double check dosages or other supplementary information. The prescription process includes the system’s own checks against patient allergies and drug interactions, providing an extra layer of protection to ensure patient safety.
Transmission to Pharmacy – Once entered in the system the prescription can be printed and given to the patient as with traditional prescription methods. The order can also be faxed directly from the ePrescription system or sent electronically if the pharmacy has that capability. Orders can be transmitted on online pharmacies if the patient desires.
Prescription Fulfillment – Regardless of transmission method, the pharmacy receives a clear medication order with none of the ambiguity or potential for misinterpretation that goes with handwritten prescriptions. The checks built in to the ePrescription system answer many of the questions a pharmacy might have, greatly reducing the number of phone calls to the physician’s office for clarification.
Renewal – Handling prescription renewals is a huge part of practice management and many staff hours are spent handling phone calls from pharmacies. The renewal process is faster with an electronic system. On some systems renewals can be sent and approved electronically, a process much faster than placing phone calls. Office staff has immediate access to the patient’s full medical history and can approve a prescription renewal in a fraction of the time it would take with paper records.
As with any new technology there is a learning curve when implementing ePrescriptions, but it is generally a short one. The electronic system will be more efficient than manual systems of prescription as well as improving patient safety.