Over a decade ago, e-prescribing was brought into the spotlight with the approval of the MMA or Medicare Modernization Act. It was initially designed to help pharmacies cut down on delivery time and other overhead costs. And the system accomplished that. It was efficient, and it provided results. Thus, the automated collection of patients’ medical history was quickly embraced by the pharmaceutical world.
Conversely, doctors were not too excited about this technological framework invading the medical field. Unlike the pharmacies, the process did not seem as useful for them. Fortunately, with more and more evidence supporting this new system’s capability, physicians chose to adopt e-prescription solutions.
Every state in the United States now allows e-prescribing. And according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), over 77% of U.S. physicians have e-prescribed, representing a whopping 500% increase from 2015. That translates to approximately 77.3 million prescriptions for an entire year. Regardless of the disease, the use of online prescriptions has two primary benefits:
Tracking Patient Fulfillment
Taking medicine as prescribed is vital to a patient’s overall well-being, especially for those with chronic conditions. Unfortunately, a study published by the Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy revealed that 50% of patients do not fully adhere to their medication treatment. The reasons for low maintenance adherence range from forgetting to fill prescriptions to not understanding the directions. This resulted not only in billions of unnecessary healthcare expenses; the non-adherence also lead to over 125,000 premature deaths.
E-prescribing allows doctors to verify whether the patients have filled prescriptions. Doctors also learn the frequency of filling prescriptions for any controlled drug, making it easier to identify and stop possible drug mishandling. Studies revealed that a 10% increase in first-fill medication adherence was observed after physicians started to transmit prescriptions electronically. Additionally, the switch to e-prescribing resulted in $140 to $ 240 billion in savings from unnecessary hospital and doctor visits.
Preventing Prescription Drug Errors
Many doctors are notorious for their handwriting. A study of doctor’s handwriting illegibility shows that pharmacists often misunderstand prescriptions. Only 72% of them read the documents correctly. Unfortunately, pharmacists are the people who must dispense medicine. The same study shows that this translated to medication errors, which affect more than 1.5 million Americans every year.
With e-prescribing, doctors can enter information into a device and transmit the prescription to pharmacies. This method eliminates the risk of medication errors that occur due to poor handwriting. Additionally, this technological framework allows physicians and pharmacists to access a patient’s medical history, including any allergies and previously prescribed medications. With access to this information, pharmacists should have reduced the chances of dispensing the wrong medication.
Overall, online prescription services might replace printed prescriptions soon. If you are hesitant about switching to e-prescriptions, the demonstrated benefits should help put your worries at ease. And as technology continues to improve, U.S. pharmacies that have not yet implemented this new methodology will adopt it. If you feel uncertain, you can look for other sources online.