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By: Stephen O'Connor

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February 1st, 2016

3 Big Reasons Why E-Prescribing Beats Traditional Prescribing

Electronic Health Records

 E-PrescribingThe Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services describes (CMS) electronic prescribing as the “ability to electronically send an accurate, error-free and understandable prescription directly to a pharmacy from the point-of-care,” which is an integral component of improving quality of care.

In a patient-centric environment, rapidly shifting toward value-based reimbursements, it is important to enhance patient satisfaction. However, along with enabling convenient 24-7 access to personal records and ensuring front-line staff are fully-trained on policies and technology, safe, effective health care service delivery remains the primary objective for all medical industry providers and support organizations.

E-prescribing beats traditional based-paper prescriptions on both fronts. Here are three reasons for your consideration.

Accuracy: E-prescribing & Patient Safety

Adverse drug experiences may occur at any point in the prescribing pathway. E-prescribing creates a comprehensive digital archive. Patients do not always remember which drug caused a rash or the most effective antibiotic used for treating prior infections. Family members may not have access to a comprehensive medication list when they bring a loved one to the ER for treatment. Both situations pose serious health risks for patients.

Error-free: Accessing Digital Best-Practice Guidelines in the Prescribing Pathway

Error-free prescribing involves more than accessing past history and ensuring legible orders are transmitted to dispensing entities. Following the most recently published guidelines for certain age groups and specific diseases or conditions is vital to prevent adverse events. When used in conjunction with electronic health record decision support tools, physicians and pharmacies can compare drug choices and research data to choose the most appropriate medication for every individual.

To highlight the significant benefits of using electronic resources to guide medication selection and dispensing, the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) points to the difference between using the BEERS criteria and STOPP when treating geriatric patients. Four specific drugs within classes deemed appropriate by BEERS criteria for elderly patients warfarin, insulin, aspirin and clopidogrel, account of almost half of all ER visits for adverse drug events in Medicare patients. The STOPP model of assessment may help reduce the number of adverse reactions triggered by necessary, but potentially harmful drugs.

Using traditional, non-digital resources to research drug contraindications and potential risks requires more time and effort than using EHR capabilities and built in alert features. Along with enhancing patient safety, e-prescribing improves organizational productivity and efficiency.

Understandable: Legible & Logical

Perhaps the most obvious reason to replace paper-based, handwritten prescriptions with electronic scripts is the benefit of eliminating hard to decipher orders. A misplaced “period” could mean a physician who intends to prescribe. 25mg oral doses taken three times a day creates a document that is interpreted by the dispensing agent as 2.5mg doses. Logically that fits within the recommended initial daily dose parameters of .75mg to 9mg depending on the condition being managed.

Even if the patient does not experience immediate negative side effects, the situation puts the patient at risk when the physician makes decisions based on his or her intentions and the patient is ingesting a significantly higher dose.

Conclusion:

Creating an accurate, error-free, legible prescription with electronic technology improves safety for patients. When used in conjunction with an EHR, patients can have confidence their physicians are following best-practices to select medications, and they are creating an accurate historical record for future reference.

E-prescribing benefits patients and providers by:

  • Reducing errors associated with illegible handwriting
  • Enabling pharmacies to accurately interpret and dispense medication orders more efficiently
  • Supporting appropriate medication selection when used with EHR decision-making tools

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About Stephen O'Connor

As a Director of Digital Marketing at Advanced Data Systems Corporation, Stephen spends his day's planning, writing, & designing resources for the modern healthcare professional. He has a strong affinity for snow crab legs, the ocean, and Rutgers Football.

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