The Role of eRx in Digital Healthcare
One of the largest paper-based processes in the U.S. is prescription writing; in fact, over 3 billion prescriptions are written out each year in this country alone. Unfortunately, a good number of these important documents are written illegibly and read incorrectly, resulting in improper dosages and sometimes leading to harmful mixtures of medications.
e-Prescribing (eRx), the electronic version of prescription writing, helps to eliminate these problems and improve patient care and the practice of medicine and pharmacy in general. eRx uses technology to generate prescriptions through an automated data-entry process that utilizes software over a secure network to link to participating pharmacies, so that a patient’s medication order can go directly from a physician’s office to the pharmacy with no hassle.
Once the information is entered into the computer by a healthcare provider, the information is safely transferred to the pharmacy using a closed network, not over email or through the Internet where security breaches can occur. Since a patient’s order reaches the pharmacy before he or she even leaves the doctor’s office, it makes the order and pick-up process much faster than before.
While accessibility and cost have, in the past, deterred physicians and pharmacies from utilizing the technologies surrounding e-Prescribing, now about 75% of community pharmacies accept e-prescriptions, and more and more doctors and pharmacies are beginning to implement them into their processes. While this new technology has not yet totally taken over the industry, there are a lot of great benefits of using eRx, and many in the healthcare field are seeing just how convenient e-prescribing is.
Advantages of using eRx vs. traditional prescription writing
Less time spent at the pharmacy – a patient’s prescription arrives at the pharmacy even before they leave the doctor’s office, so they won’t have to worry about dropping off their prescription and returning later. In fact, their order will likely be started, if not completed, by the time they arrive to pick up their medication.
- Clear, legible orders – pharmacists are always trying to decipher the handwritten orders that the doctor’s prescribe, but with eRx, they can read the proper medications and doses without any trouble. This ensures the safety of the patient as well as the professional safety of the doctors and pharmacists.
- Immediate warnings and alerts – certain combinations of medications or certain mixtures of food and drinks with medications can often be harmful, and sometimes even deadly. With e-Prescribing, a doctor will be immediately notified if a patient is taking a conflicting medication or if he or she should avoid certain foods or drinks while taking the drug.
- Insurance considerations – some eRx software allows physicians and pharmacists to access insurance information for their patients so that they can prescribe the appropriate brand and medication that is covered by their health plan. This can save a lot of out-of-pocket expenses on the patient, as well as the stress that comes along with that added expense.
There is no doubt that eRx is changing the healthcare landscape, and it brings safety and security to all those involved in the healthcare industry, from physician to the health insurance company to the patient. For supporters and opponents alike, it cannot be denied that e-Prescribing is now an important element in providing quality patient care.