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Providers Slowly Adapting To E-Prescriptions

05/02/12

  04:22:21 pm, by MedBen5   , 244 words,  
Categories: Prescription

Providers Slowly Adapting To E-Prescriptions

While much medical information is now communicated electronically, many doctors still write prescriptions the old-fashioned way – with pen in hand. The New York Times recently examined the advantages of e-prescribing, and the progress (and lack thereof) in getting providers to adopt the system.

The push to transmit drug instructions directly to the pharmacist has benefits that go beyond simple convenience. A 2010 study of prescription processing found that for every 100 paper prescriptions, 37 contained some kind of error – and that number doesn’t take into account legibility issues. In contrast, only 7 in 100 errors were detected when e-prescribing software was used.

Previous studies of prescriptions in hospital settings turned up error rates of about 5 per 100 paper prescriptions – most of which were not serious, but a handful of which carried potential for harm. Even so, only about 36% of all prescriptions were delivered electronically in the United States in 2011 – and 70% of hospitals have yet to make the change.

So what keeps more providers from going 100% electronic? Certainly, cost is a consideration. As the Times article notes, the 2009 stimulus package helps doctors financially, but payments are included as part of Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and spread out of five years. So the upfront costs can be formidable.

Another hurdle is the extra work time involved in entering data to electronic records. “These systems are far from plug and play,” says Rainu Kaushal, a professor of medical informatics at Weill Cornell Medical College and co-author of the 2010 study.

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