One of the more peculiar stats you’ll ever hear is how frequently bad handwriting kills. According to research conducted by the Institute of Medicine, 7,000 deaths in the US alone happen because of poor handwriting. That’s over 19 deaths per day because someone’s third-grade teacher didn’t instill the importance of legible handwriting. But compound that with the fact that we live in an increasingly digital world, and these preventable deaths are inexcusable.
Luckily, software has been developed to help combat this issue. One of the best categories of software that helps solve the bad handwriting problem is ePrescribing software. It’s all the rage nowadays, oftentimes included as a feature of practice management software, an electronic health records (EHR) system or an electronic medical records (EMR) system.
What is ePrescribing Software?
As you can guess, ePrescribing software handles prescriptions electronically. These systems allow you to record both new and ongoing prescriptions for your patients. Following a diagnosis, you can turn to your computer or mobile device and input the same information you’d usually write down on paper. This includes which drug you’re prescribing, directions for use, refill details and more.
You can then send the prescription electronically to your patient’s pharmacy so they can pick it up after their appointment. Additionally, ePrescribing software keeps records of every prescription you give, including detailed information on how many and what kinds of prescriptions each patient has.
Benefits of ePrescribing Software
Improved Patient Safety
As we touched on earlier, ePrescribing software helps eliminate issues related to bad handwriting. After all, everyone can read a prescription typed out on their computer. By doing so, ePrescribing software reduces the possibility of the wrong drug or dosage being prescribed, thereby reducing medication errors.
But this is just one of many ways that it helps improve the safety of your patients. It also records each patient’s medication history, so you can assess whether a certain prescription could have negative effects because of a drug they took in the past or are currently taking.
In addition, ePrescribing software can automatically check for problems with drug interactions. In other words, it’ll let you know when a prescription could result in a problem with a drug-drug interaction or a drug-disease interaction.
Saving Time for Everyone
From an administrative perspective, the biggest benefit of ePrescribing software is that it saves time for everyone involved. It saves time for your practice because all you have to do to send a prescription is choose the pharmacy and hit send, rather than calling or faxing them. It saves time for pharmacies for much the same reason; rather than receiving a call or fax, they just have to look at a screen to get the prescription details.
Your patients save time thanks to ePrescribing software, too, by reducing the time from prescription to fulfillment. This makes picking up their prescription convenient, as they can do so right after they leave their appointment. Plus, you can automatically approve refills when necessary, so your patients don’t have to pick up or wait for a new refill approval every month.
The cost of prescription drugs is one of the biggest hindrances to patients actually getting their prescriptions. With ePrescribing software, you can view your patients’ insurance plans, informing you of which drugs are covered and what they’ll cost the patient. You can then use this information to prescribe the most cost-effective drug. This not only gives your patients more access to the drugs they need, but also builds a reputation of excellent patient care for your practice.
With any prescription, there are specific directions you need to include so that patients know how much and how often to take it. This often includes specific instructions that differ by the patient. But just because it’s done electronically, doesn’t mean that ePrescribing software limits this capability.
Most ePrescribing software includes an easy-to-use prescribing interface that allows you to input the dosage, route, frequency and any patient-specific instructions. It’s a very straightforward process that allows you to save time while not sacrificing the ability to give your patients the proper information. Below is an example of an ePrescribing interface, via HealthIT.gov.
The best ePrescribing software can alert you to potential prescription issues. HealthIT.gov specifies a few of the common alerts, including dosing alerts, allergy alerts, duplicate therapy warnings and best practice advisories. More specifically, these alerts can let you know when your patient is getting too much of a certain drug, which could reveal a drug abuse problem. Additionally, the alerts let you know if the combination of any prescriptions could harm them, or if they’ll have a bad reaction to a certain drug. These all help increase patient safety, while also saving your practice from any legal trouble related to harmful prescriptions.
The Present and Future of Prescriptions
It took a while to gain popularity, but in recent years, ePrescribing has become a near-standard feature for healthcare providers and pharmacies alike. In fact, as of last year, 90% of US pharmacies accepted electronic prescriptions, while 70% of physicians use some kind of ePrescribing software. So, we’ll just come out and say it: if you’re not using it yet, you’re falling behind. Due to the benefits listed above, the popularity of ePrescribing software will only continue to grow in the years to come. And we certainly think that’s a good thing.