Electronic-prescribing (e-prescribing) is one part of the larger move to increased utilization of health information technologies (HITs). Along with other HITs such as electronic health records, telehealth, and health information exchanges, e-prescribing is seen as a tool for improving patient-centered care. The potential benefits of e-prescribing are extended to prescribers, payers, pharmacies, and patients. In general, the benefits of e-prescribing fall into the following categories: patient safety, improved prescribing, efficiency/workflow, and cost savings.
E-Prescribing is rapidly growing in the telehealth field, not just because of the technology, but because of the substantial benefits for patient’s safety and physicians’ workflow. The advantages of e-prescribing for telehealth providers are numerous:
- Prevents prescription drug errors — e-Prescribing eliminates handwriting errors/illegibility and gives both physician and pharmacist access to a patient’s prescription history to reduce the chance of the wrong drug being dispensed.
- Speeds up the medication reconciliation process — clinicians can instantly view a patient’s medication history and won’t have to manually reconcile medication lists or commit clinical information to memory, such as drug-drug interactions.
- Instant notification of allergies, drug interactions, duplicate therapies and other clinical alerts — e-Prescribing gives physicians full visibility into all of a patient’s documented allergies and previously prescribed drugs and will trigger clinical alerts if a newly prescribed drug has any potential for negative reactions.
- Monitor controlled substances abuse — enables physicians to electronically prescribe and monitor controlled substances in a single workflow. With e-prescribing, physicians can track how many controlled substance prescriptions a patient has received, reducing the likelihood of over-prescribing or doctor shopping.
- Reduces the risk of readmissions –Built-in safety features such as clinical alerts and duplicate therapy alerts reduce the risk of adverse drug reactions. Roughly 20 percent of all hospital readmissions can be traced to adverse drug reactions.
- Improves medication adherence — Chronic underuse of medications is the most common form of non-adherence, with patients using a lower dose than was prescribed or prematurely stopping therapy.
- Makes it easier to verify insurance — E-Prescribing tools make it easier to choose formulary medications that will be covered by the patient’s drug benefit. Prescribing a drug the patient can afford makes it more likely that the patient will fill it and take it.
Confirming these advantages is a recent article in the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) newsletter, Perspective. The article cites statistics that illustrate just how effective e-prescribing can be in improving patient safety and the quality of healthcare.
Results of their research show that e-prescribing reduces prescribing errors, increases efficiency, and helps save on healthcare costs. Medication errors have been reduced to as little as one-seventh of their previous level, and cost savings due to improved patient outcomes and decreased patient visits are estimated to be between $140 billion and $240 billion over 10 years for healthcare organizations that implement e-prescribing.