May 20, 2012

Can't read your doctor's handwriting? No problem.

Gone are the days of my carrying around or hunting for a prescription pad at work. Or double and triple checking my weight-based pediatric drug dose calculations. Since my clinic moved to electronic health records and e-prescriptions over 5 years ago, life is simpler for me - and most likely safer for my patients.

E-prescribing has tripled in the past three years. Last year one-third of prescriptions in the US were electronic. That’s up from one-fifth of prescriptions the year prior.

And physicians who do not make the move to e-prescribing will start seeing cuts in their Medicare reimbursements this year.

The benefits of e-prescribing are many. Less waiting at the pharmacy for patients. Pharmacists not having to spend time on the phone with doctor's offices or trying to decipher illegible handwriting. Clinicians being able to check potential drug interactions at the point of care.

It also turns out that patients are 10% more likely to fill their new prescription when it is prescribed electronically. This is according to a study by Surescripts, which handles nearly all U.S. e-prescriptions. A key reason is that pharmacies automatically receive electronic prescriptions from physicians, and then can remind patients to come in to pick up their medicine.

- Ulfat Shaikh

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