E-prescribing may be the safe way to dispense medications in the future, and it’s just beginning to make inroads in the medical system.
It’s not a secret that most people will be the victim of at least one medication error a day if they happen to be in the hospital. Med errors have been known to occur in other health care environments as well such as doctor’s offices, ER settings, at pharmacies, and in long-term care. The head count for errors of this nature is close to 1.5 million preventable injuries that may be avoided by taking more care.
It doesn’t take much to make a mistake and it may all boil down to just one misread sentence or chart order for a potential fatality. Mistakes in hospitals range from overmedicating to under medicating and even giving drugs that are perhaps unnecessary or even dangerous. Medication errors increase the older the population gets and is subject to more trips to the hospital and more pharmaceutical support.
The solution to this conundrum of too many medications; not enough time; mistakes on the order charts; poor handwriting; and poor communications with other medical staff and with the patient may be avoided with the implementation of something called e-prescribing.
E-prescribing would provide the kind of knowledge currently missing for most physicians in a hospital setting – e.g. drug interactions with current meds the patient is on, information about any supplements or herbal medicines they may use, and a complete history of drug allergies and reactions. A good e-prescribing system is capable of doing multiple tasks at once and delivering virtually instant results.
E-prescribing allows health care providers to choose the right medication for their patients; considers the person’s medication history and allergies; decreases the chances of a bad drug reaction; posts the cost of the medication along with viable alternatives; and also advises if the patient’s insurance will cover a recommended drug.
Although many people wonder about the privacy and security of a system like this, it is only able to be accessed by doctors and pharmacists on a secure network that links them together. When issues like this come up in the health system, it is often more a matter of what will benefit the patients the most, than a matter of who will see the patient information.
In other words, the bottom line for the patient (and the system) is that patient safety will increase because e-prescribing will ditch illegible prescriptions, alert physicians and pharmacists about drug allergies immediately, and (perhaps the most important feature) is that it will update a patient’s medication record for “all” prescribing doctors. Finally, a way to get everyone in the medical system on the same page, working toward the same end: patient care and safety.
It seems to be working and the federal government is actually handing out e-prescribing bonuses to health care providers. The deal is if they e-prescribe for 2009 and 2010, they get a 2% boost in Medicare payments. The e-wave of the future is beginning to look quite interesting. To find out if a local doctor trying this innovative system, check out www.learnabouteprescriptions.com for a list. Look for this system to be fully implemented by 2012 and for those physician’s not using it for 2012, 2013 and 2014, to be penalized 1 percent of 2012/2013 Medicare charges, and 2 percent for 2014 Medicare bills.