As an industry leader in e-Prescribing software, it seems appropriate that our first blog post would be about why using e-Prescribing software is so important. The team here at MDToolbox is passionate about e-Prescribing, not just because it’s a “cool” project to work on, but because it’s revolutionizing the healthcare workflow and can literally save lives.
E-prescribing, or electronic prescribing, is the method of writing and sending a prescription using an electronic device. Instead of handwriting a prescription on paper, the provider electronically sends the prescription to the pharmacy. It’s as easy as sending an e-mail. While there is a plethora of reasons providers should be using e-Prescribing software, we have narrowed it down to our top 5.
5) Use Anywhere, Any Time, on Any Device
Most e-Prescribing software is web-based, allowing providers to log in and prescribe from anywhere they have access to the internet, on any device (iPads, tablets, smartphones, etc.) and at any time. Patients’ medication records and e-prescribing can be accessed wherever prescribers need it – at the office, hospital, home, even the golf course.
Using e-Prescribing software offers a more secure way of prescribing medications. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association1, found that over 20% of prescribers had experienced prescription fraud in the past 6 months before the study. These included the prescriptions being altered by the patients, counterfeited prescriptions, and stolen prescription pads. By prescribers directly electronically sending prescriptions to pharmacies, this prescription fraud can be eliminated.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) created the Electronic Prescribing (eRx) Incentive Program in 2009 to encourage prescribers to use e-Prescribing software. At that time they were giving incentive payments to eligible prescribers; however, they are now penalizing providers who do not use e-prescribing software with payment adjustments. In 2013, the payment adjustment is 1.5% and in 2014 it will increase to 2.0%.
Meaningful Use, another CMS program, also provides incentives to providers for using certified electronic health record systems. There are several core requirements and menu items that a provider must meet in order to attest to Meaningful Use. Using e-Prescribing software will help meet many of these requirements.
2) Saves Time and Money
Using e-Prescribing software allows providers and their staff to spend more time focused on patient care, and less time looking up drugs, on the phone with pharmacies, and writing out prescriptions.
A complete drug database is available for prescriber to search. Many e-Prescribing vendors offer several ways to search for drugs including common libraries, drug class, indication, supplies, and more. Complete drug reference information, as well as recommended dosages is also often available. MDToolbox even provides dosing recommendation and a dosing calculator right at the point of prescribing, so it’s easy to calculate the correct dosages. There is no need to go searching for calculators and through drug references books, everything needed for prescribing is available in one place.
Physicians and their staff can spend hours on the phone a day responding to requests from pharmacies to clarify prescriptions, discuss formulary issues, and authorize refills. A study by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Center for Research, reported these calls can cost a practice almost $20,000 a year 2. Using e-Prescribing software reduces these callbacks and allows refill requests to be responded to electronically, rather than over the phone. Refill requests are all stored in one place and can be approved or denied within a matter of seconds. The prescriptions sent are clear, in a standard format, and the prescriber has access to the patient’s formulary information right at the time of prescribing, reducing the need to discuss them with the pharmacy.
Another way prescribers can save time is by using favorite lists. These allow the prescriber to save a favorite prescription, including directions and amounts, to a list. The prescriber can then use this list to quickly pick and prescribe from and send the prescriptions to the pharmacy within seconds.
1) Improves Patient Safety
The number one priority for providers and for the MDToolbox Team is patient safety. Writing prescriptions by hand causes a significant amount of errors. A study by professor of medical informatics at Weill Cornell Medical College, Rainu Kaushal and colleagues 3, found 37 errors for every 100 paper prescriptions. The study also found a remarkable 88 legibility errors per 100 prescriptions. Providers using e-Prescribing software cut the number of errors down to 7 for every 100 prescriptions and completely eliminated legibility errors.
Using e-Prescribing software not only does away with handwriting errors, it also provides necessary alerts at the time of prescribing. Prescribers can access a patient’s medication history, verify their medications, and in turn, receive a warning if they pick a drug to prescribe that could cause a possible adverse reaction (or even death). These include drug-drug, drug-allergy, drug-condition, and duplicate therapy alerts. With today’s available technology, there is no excuse for the possible harm that could come from these preventable medication errors. Every prescriber should be using e-Prescribing software.
1. Thomas CP, Kim M, McDonald A, Kreiner P, Kelleher SJ Jr, Blackman MB, Kaufman PN, & Carrow GM. Prescribers' expectations and barriers to electronic prescribing of controlled substances. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2012;19:375-381.
2. Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Center for Research. Analyzing the Cost of Administrative Complexity. http://www.mgma.com/about/default.aspx?id=280
3. Kaushal R, Kern LM, Barrón Y, Quaresimo J, Abramson EL. Electronic prescribing improves medication safety in community-based office practices. J Gen Intern Med. 2010 June; 25(6): 530–536.