Standalone e-prescribing (eRx) systems were once preferred by physicians who refused to transition to electronic charting but still wanted the benefits that e-prescriptions could provide. Now, with federal incentive programs encouraging healthcare professionals to implement electronic health record (EHR) technology – and all of the certified systems featuring integrated e-prescribing modules – more and more physicians are leaving their once-trusted standalone eRx software in lieu of an all-inclusive digital charting solution.
According to a data brief published by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology last November, as of June 2012, 48 percent of physicians were e-prescribing through their EHR. Meanwhile, a year earlier Surescripts found that 58 percent of physicians were writing electronic prescriptions, either through an EHR or using standalone e-prescribing software.
The data from both reports shows that, while some physicians continue to use standalone eRx solutions, the numbers are dwindling as many opt for comprehensive EHRs. EHRs with e-prescribing capabilities allow physicians to obtain more health information about the patient they are writing the prescription for, reducing the possibility of drug-drug or drug-allergy interactions.
Benefits of e-prescribing
E-prescribing has been credited for increasing efficiency and improving the quality of patient care. Some of the notable benefits it provides to healthcare professionals include:
- Increased medication adherence. A Surescripts study confirmed that for every 100 prescriptions made electronically, 76.5 percent of them are retrieved. This is seven percent more than with paper prescriptions.
- Fewer prescription errors. By using e-prescribing software, physicians can eliminate errors due to illegible handwriting, identify dosage errors and contraindications, and improve the overall accuracy of each prescription.
- Increased efficiency. Through the e-prescribing module, pharmacists can contact physicians with prescription questions and request refills on behalf of the patient. Physicians can respond to requests directly through their EHR, eliminating the need for phone calls.
This is not the first time that a health IT-related system has become all but obsolete. Personal health records have been pushed to the wayside and have been replaced by EHR-integrated patient portals. Whether healthcare professionals choose standalone systems or opt for a more comprehensive EHR, the benefits of e-prescribing for both patients and providers are too great to ignore.