• United States
Contributing Writer

Electronic prescriptions are on their way

Jul 10, 20032 mins
Enterprise Applications

* E-prescriptions fly straight from the doctor's office to the pharmacy

More and more doctors are catching on to the concept of electronic prescriptions. Rather than writing a prescription down on a tablet and handing it over to a patient, a doctor’s office electronically sends a prescription – straight from the doctor to the pharmacist.

Several companies, including Allscripts Healthcare Solutions and ScriptRx are taking the lead in developing software applications that support e-prescriptions.

E-prescriptions offer numerous benefits for doctors, insurance companies and pharmacies. They cut costs dramatically on everything from time spent at the physician’s offices logging prescriptions to time spent by pharmacies double-checking handwritten notes. Interestingly, the Institute of Safe Medical Practices found that pharmacies were making 150 million phone calls a year to physicians to clarify handwritten prescriptions. All that money would be saved.

The technology also has the potential to cut down on medication errors that result from misread handwritten notes. And, doctors will be able to instantly cross-reference a patient’s file to make sure that the drugs they are prescribing will not have an adverse affect on that patient.

E-prescriptions could also make the insurance process easier by checking to see whether a particular medication is covered under a patient’s insurance before the doctor prescribes it. Claims could also be expedited if they are submitted at the same time pharmacies receive the prescription.

Overall, e-prescription systems offer great opportunity for doctors themselves. They can enter a diagnosis into a PDA and receive back several drug therapy options. They would also have access to the latest information about emerging drugs and ones that are already on the market. This would improve the entire healthcare process as patients would be receiving up to date treatments.

Forrester Research recently reported that by 2007 e-prescription programs would fall under government regulations. But even that is good news for the industry as patients would be guaranteed privacy of their health records and physicians and pharmacies would have guidelines for how best to administer e-prescription systems.

What do you think? Are e-prescriptions a boon or a bust? Let me know at