The current US healthcare system suffers from excessive bureaucracy and red tape-ism. Regulations have only made the care delivery process more complex with unnecessary delays and loss of productivity. The proposed shift to Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) was an attempt to bolster efficient practice methods that enable quality care delivery. Paper health records have long since become obsolete. Paper based documentation simply cannot match the growing requirements of our healthcare system. Inherent limitations along with system inefficiencies drive the costs up, whereas outcomes are far from satisfactory. Nearly 98,000 deaths are reported each year due to negligence and medical malpractice, thus medical errors are a huge cause for concern.
Before the CMS introduced the EMR stimulus program, it had turned its attention towards medical prescribing. Medication errors cause over 7,000 fatalities each year, hence it was imperative for the government to move towards a more efficient system in e-prescribing (eRx). ’It’s unfortunate but most of the medication errors are attributable to illegibility of the prescription note or miss spellings on the part of the provider’, says a pharmacologist. E-Prescribing reduces medication errors whilst improving accuracy and accountability.
E-Prescribing was the first step towards connected care and interoperable systems and the uptake has been encouraging to say the least. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 97% of all chain pharmacies are connected to the e-prescribing system. Dr. Karen Nanji at Massachusetts General Hospital believes that the ePrescribing capability of EMRs has increased adoption, as providers anticipate a reduction in medication errors.
Dr. Rainu Kaushal led a research to determine the performance of electronic prescribing systems. The researchers observed a dozen practices. Half a dozen used the traditional prescribing methods while the other half adopted e-prescribing. According to their report in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the eRx practices were able to reduce errors from an average of 42.5 per 100 to 6.6 per 100, where as the practices that stayed with paper prescribing saw an average increase of 1% in prescription errors.
E-prescribing reduces the risks associated with the traditional method of prescribing. The clinical decision support system helps ensure patient safety through drug interaction checks. E-prescribing also helps in building a connected care platform, where nurses and physicians can quickly create or renew prescriptions electronically while patient dosage may also be modified. eRx offers more control over patient care and will always have an integral part to play in the care continuum.