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The benefits of e-prescribing beyond achieving meaningful use

E-prescribing owes a debt of gratitude to meaningful use. Without the Office of the National Coordinator’s inclusion of the capability as a core measure, enabling physician technologies may not have taken off with such vigor. But where MU’s e-prescribing requirements — such as two-way transmissions, complete active medication lists and formulary information — leave off, real innovation — characterized by real-time transactions, automated requests and responses, and Intelligent Routing like Emdeon provides — begins with many valuable benefits for providers, pharmacies and patients.

For one, it establishes a connectivity platform between physicians and pharmacists that simplifies and enhances collaboration to enhance patient safety. It also can reduce paperwork and the associated inefficiencies and inaccuracies that may flow from reliance on handwritten notes. And new technologies are designed to add transparency to drug pricing, allowing clinicians to search for cheaper alternatives at the patient’s request. But beyond these well-known advantages, technology developers are responding to healthcare’s emerging drivers, including interoperability and patient-centered care models, by integrating new capabilities into existing e-prescribing platforms.

Among this new set of functionality is e-prescribing for controlled substances. Eleven percent of all prescriptions are for controlled substances, but until just recently, the Drug Enforcement Administration prohibited EPCS, for fear it that it couldn’t be adequately monitored. Now, with additional security controls — including passwords, biometrics and secure tokens that fit smoothly within physician workflow — the DEA believes that EPCS creates a safer portal for prescribing and dispensing controlled substances than manual processes, protecting both doctors and pharmacies.  

E-prescribing also provides additional patient safety measures. According to a 2007 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, more than 1,000,000 serious drug errors occur in U.S. hospitals annually. E-prescribing technology can allow providers to see prescription histories and reconcile medications at the point of care through a medication reconciliation module available as a component of many e-prescribing tools. Enabled e-prescribing systems can capture up to 95 percent of patient medication information, far more than the approximately 70 percent typically revealed during patient interviews.

Prescription monitoring program features also are being incorporated into e-prescribing modules. This capability is designed to lower instances of drug diversions and enable patient compliance by preventing physicians from ordering controlled substances they are not legally permitted to prescribe or a patient is not eligible to receive.

Finally, e-prescribing is becoming a significant component of patient engagement programs, helping to involve individuals in the prescription process. When a physician submits an order, the system may automatically send an email, text or voice message to the patient confirming the order and pharmacy destination. This also provides a conduit for the pharmacy to communicate with patients by notifying them when the prescription is ready, for example, adding a new level of convenience.

E-prescribing capabilities outlined by MU requirements can create a safer environment for patients by reducing errors and promoting medication compliance. And pharmacists and clinicians will spend less time following up on handwriting interpretations or prior authorization requirements. But beyond MU, e-prescribing will continue to be the technology of the future, enabled with advanced capabilities for managing prescription risks, leading to more appropriate and potentially cost-effective prescribing decisions. 

 


Lathe Bigler
Senior director of clinical services, pharmacy services division
Lathe Bigler serves as Emdeon’s senior director of clinical services for the pharmacy services division. His focus on developing layers of competitive advantage and increasing market growth are instrumental in Emdeon’s advancement in the exchange of electronic prescriptions and other clinical information. Bigler has more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare and information technology fields, and has held roles in marketing, product management, business development and industry relations with such corporations as NDC Health, Midmark Diagnostics, DrFirst and AltaPoint Data Systems. Bigler has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and business administration.

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