Does E-Prescribing Actually Save Time and Money?

Prescription and medication
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E-prescribing is a safer, more secure and faster method of prescribing patient medication. It is the means of transmitting a prescription or prescription-related information between a prescriber or dispenser in an electronic format—either directly or through an e-prescribing network.

E-prescribing proponents will tell you that e-prescribing will save your medical practice time and money versus using paper or fax. Also, E-prescribing has a wide range of benefits that help patients and physicians, including:

Patient Safety: E-prescribing can improve patient safety because it minimizes many mistakes that written or verbal prescriptions may cause. One of the biggest mistakes of written prescriptions is caused by illegible handwriting. E-prescribing makes sure that the medications prescribed are less likely to be confused which could lead to adverse drug reactions for patients. Phone calls to pharmacies can also lead to mistakes due to miscommunications.

Time Savings: E-prescribing can reduce time spent on the phone back and forth between patients, pharmacies, and physicians. The automation of e-prescribing reduces the need to clarify prescription requests and discuss potential errors. It also reduces time spent on call backs, prescription refill requests, and insurance authorizations.

Convenience: E-prescribing is convenient for physicians and pharmacies. Physicians and pharmacies have direct access to a patient's medication history and many types of e-prescription software provide alerts and warning systems that indicate potential adverse drug reactions.

Lower Costs for Patients: E-prescribing reduces costs for patients. Since physicians have access to identification of generic medications or lower-cost equivalent medications, that can offer tremendous cost savings for insurance companies which are passed on to the patients.

Are you eligible for e-prescribing incentives?  To be eligible, you must use qualified e-prescribing technology.

According to the E-Prescribing Incentive Program, a qualified e-prescribing system is one that is capable of ALL of the following:

  • Generate a complete active medication list incorporating electronic data received from applicable pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs)(if available)
  • Select medications, print prescriptions, electronically transmit prescriptions, and conduct all alerts (including automated prompts)
  • Provide information related to lower cost, therapeutically appropriate alternatives
  • Provide information on formulary or tiered formulary medications, patient eligibility, and authorization requirements received electronically from the patients drug plan
  • Meet specifications for messaging

Here are five suggestions to ensure e-prescribing success:

  1. Many prescribing errors using e-prescribing are caused by a lack of proper training. Receiving ongoing training makes the process more efficient.
  2. Stay informed on prescription laws and compliance.  This will eliminate back and forth communication between the physician and the pharmacy to correct excessive quantity or durations on dosages.
  3. The use of handheld devices is a growing trend.  More software is becoming available for the use of e-prescribing on smartphones and tablets further saving time for physicians.
  4. Using integrated EHR systems makes it easier for physicians to review medical histories prior to prescribing medication.
  5. Having IT support and maintenance during and after implementation reduces limitations and downtimes that would push physicians to revert back to paper or fax prescriptions.

E-prescribing is one of many growing health care information technologies such as mobile health also known as m-health, the electronic health record also known as EHR, and telehealth which includes a number of applications such as teleprocessing, telemedicine, teleconsultation, telemonitoring, teleradiology, tele-education, telesurgery, telepathology, and other telespecialties as well as telecare or telehome care.

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