Electronic prescribing is completely revolutionizing the way in which hospitals and clinics deliver healthcare today. It is also playing a remarkable role in the nation’s attempts to augment the quality and safety of the prescribing process.

A recent study conducted by the Everett Clinic in partnership with the University of Washington’s School of Pharmacy found that e-prescriptions improved patient safety by minimizing potential medication errors which, in turn, lead to adverse drug reactions. 

In this piece, we will be looking at a few ways your medical and health business can benefit from ePrescribing.

1. Increased clinician productivity

Writing down prescriptions manually can get extremely exhausting and confusing at times since more often than not, these prescriptions need to be drawn up and authorized on an individual basis. With e-prescription systems, clinicians can automatically refill tens of hundreds of RXs simultaneously, allowing more time to review them. This can increase efficiency, minimize the prescription error rate, and reduce no show appointments for that particular healthcare facility.

Clinicians can also swiftly permit an emergency prescription refill with the help of e-prescription systems in case a patient loses access to their medication. These systems furnish frequent alerts about duplicate therapies, which can further aid doctors to avoid prescribing varying treatments for the same medical indication. 

An e-prescription system can also be integrated with a medical transcription service within the hospital setting. Doing this will take care of the facility’s compliance requirements and documentation at the same time. This will further rid clinicians of all the data entry related tasks and additional paperwork, thereby increasing their productivity.

2. Lower medication costs

According to one recent study published by Surescripts, ePrescribing is closely associated with an increase in healthcare savings of around $140 to $240 billion and improved health outcomes over a span of the next ten years.

Physicians in the study who leveraged ePrescribing technology wrote out close to 40% of their prescriptions electronically. This led to a 10% increase in patient first-fill medication adherence, which translates to fewer doctor visits and reduced readmissions. Taking into account this 60/40 ratio of paper-to-electronic prescriptions, the said study displayed that prescription delivery rates rise to 81.8%, and 76.5% get picked up.

This is truly uplifting for hospitals looking to reduce readmission rates, given the fact that many prescriptions never even make it to a pharmacy counter. Surescripts lead researcher Seth Joseph said this number could be as high as 22%-28%, based on a Journal of General Internal Medicine study.

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3. Greater patient medication adherence

Misreading manual prescriptions among health practitioners is a major cause of blunders, frequently due to illegible handwriting leading to various kinds of error, including wrong medication, wrong frequency or duration, and incorrect patient information. Further, a workflow is less efficient when valuable time is lost by pharmacists or health practitioners struggling to understand a prescription. 

When compared with manual prescriptions, e-prescriptions are exceptionally simple to understand in terms of dosage and treatment; and require less interpretation on the part of the pharmacist. This can significantly alleviate medication errors. ePrescribing can also help ensure patients have precise information regarding how a particular drug is supposed to be consumed and what its side effects could be.

Increased adherence to medication therapies can reduce costs significantly and deliver better health outcomes too. As demonstrated by the Surescripts’ study mentioned earlier, a 10% increase was noticed in prescriptions picked up when e-prescribed compared to written scripts.

In addition to greater medication adherence, ePrescribing can reduce the peril of an incorrect dosage, which can easily waste time, or even harm a patient in a worst-case scenario and tarnish the organization’s reputation

4. Augmented outcomes from electronic health records

In the United States, more than 4.5 million visits to hospital emergency rooms (ERs) and physicians’ offices happen due to avoidable adverse drug events (ADEs) each year. These ADEs normally occur because of allergies, interactions with other drugs or treatments, and additional factors — like high drug dosages and chronic use of certain medications. 

The majority e-prescription systems employed in hospitals are designed in a way that they integrate seamlessly with electronic health records (EHRs) that collect information about patients’ past and present medical history, including existing allergies. These EHR systems can alert clinicians if the chances of a prescription interfering with another treatment are high. They can also prevent clinicians from prescribing a medication that a patient would be allergic to.

Therefore, it can be safely assumed that when used alongside an ePrescribing system, EHR outcomes of hospitals can be ameliorated considerably.

5. Easy exchange of patient prescription information

Time efficiency is important for workflow in most hospitals, not only for the patient but also for the entire health care staff. When physicians have to spend more time writing prescriptions and pharmacists spend more time deciphering prescriptions that are difficult to understand, a great deal of time has been poorly spent.

ePrescribing is expected to streamline the exchange of patient prescription information across many organizations including hospitals, physician offices, pharmacies in retail settings, prescription benefit management companies, and insurance providers. 

E-prescribing can also help to involve patients in the prescription process by automatically sending out emails, text messages, or voicemails confirming their order and pharmacy of choice; pharmacies can then notify patients by the same pathways when a prescription is ready.

e-Prescribing is worth the investment

Due to all these reasons, it can be rightly said that ePrescribing has immense potential when it comes to ameliorating the overall outcomes of hospitals and health clinics. 

Whether your facility is looking to implement an EHR that sends e-prescriptions (which is a requirement for meeting meaningful use objectives), or it’s switching systems and needs different e-prescribing capabilities, here are several questions you need to consider:

  • Is the solution easy to use for providers?
  • What systems do the pharmacies we work with use?
  • Is the network secure?
  • How do we introduce e-prescribing to patients?

Once you’ve put enough thought into these four primary questions and formulated an ePrescription model that will work the best to suit the needs of your organization, you’ll be good to go!

AvatarRahul Varshneya

Rahul Varshneya is the founder and President of Digital Health Consulting firm Arkenea and has written extensively about the confluence of healthcare, startup economy, and technology.