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The Impact of e-Prescribing on Patient Safety

Electronic prescribing, like any new technological development, has both advantages and disadvantages. The most attractive benefits include increased patient safety and reduced medication errors, reduced medication costs with FDS software, improved access to patient medication records, and improved pharmacy workflow. E-prescribing can potentially bring cost savings and improve efficiency and patient safety. Cost savings are seen more often when providers use FDS-equipped systems; however, the savings are negated if the pharmacist wastes valuable time verifying incomplete or inaccurate orders.

What is E-Prescribing?

Electronic prescribing is the use of healthcare technology to better prescribe correctness, increase patient safety, and reduce costs, as well as to be capable of secure, two-way electronic communication between doctors and pharmacies in real-time. This is expert by providing prescribers with a secure means to electronically enter the health plan form, patient eligibility, and medication history at the point of care and by firmly transmitting the prescription electronically to the pharmacy’s computer system.

There are many factors contributing to the increased use of e-prescribing applications. The improved patient is possibly the most important, as e-prescribing generates readable prescriptions that have been checked against the patient’s electronic drug profile for potentially harmful interactions at the time of prescription.

How does e-Prescription Work?

Electronic prescribing refers to software that allows doctors to transmit prescriptions to pharmacies digitally. Your doctor or healthcare professional enters the prescription information online using a computer or portable device.

Once the message is sent, your pharmacist will receive and fill the prescriptions. If you have text messaging enabled at your pharmacy, you may receive a text message to let you know when your medication is available for pickup or delivery.

Impact on Patient Safety

  • Avoidable errors associated with written prescriptions include selecting the wrong or unavailable drug, dosage form, or dosage; duplication of therapy; omission of information; and misinterpretation of the order due to illegible handwriting.
  • These errors, if caught before processing, often require additional communication between the pharmacist and the provider, delaying patient care.
  • Suppliers have reported less time consumed confirming handwritten orders, easier access to a patient’s insurance coverage information, and peace of mind concerning transmitted orders. Also, providers may be entitled to reimbursement if they are compliant with formulary programs.
  • Insurance manufacturing has reported cost savings due to better formulary adherence, lessened therapeutic duplication, and prevention of ADEs.
  • Managers have been shown to benefit financially from lessened healthcare costs and healthier employees.

Benefits to Patient

The most obvious benefit for patients is increased comfort. Prescription orders are dispatched to pharmacies by machine or electronically permit patients to appear at the pharmacy and have their prescription orders waiting for them. If the prescription order is sent to a mail-order pharmacy, the patient does not have to mail it and can receive the prescription in the mail several days earlier. Additional orders will also be streamlined and processed faster.

As described above, the possibility of cross-checking the new prescription at the point of prescription of drug interactions and the patient’s health status will guide a reduction in the incidence of adverse events. Vigilant checks for allergies and duplication of current medications may be communicated to the prescriber. There is an option to compare the patient’s prescriptions with their current insurance coverage and across other insurance coverages where the patient may be eligible for benefits.

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Eventually, patients may be able to lessen their co-pay costs because prescribers will have information about the patient’s health idea or prescription benefit management (PBM) company at the time of prescribing. This will make it facile for the prescriber to consider alternatives and discuss choices directly with the patient when the patient is in the prescriber’s office, sooner than while the patient is waiting in the pharmacy. The SEMI initiative found that when a formulation alert was presented, 39 percent of the time the physician changed the prescription to meet the formulation requirements.

Disadvantages of E-Prescribing

Despite the effectiveness and accuracy of e-prescribing, some concerns have been raised. Electronic prescribing has introduced the possibility of new errors that did not exist when using paper prescription pads.

  •       Common disadvantages of e-prescribing for seniors include:
  •       Poor patient selection.
  •       App alert for fatigue.
  •       Bad or difficult product selection.
  •       Poor design features make it difficult for tech-savvy seniors to fully utilize the software.
  •       Security and privacy concerns.

Also, smaller, independent pharmacies may not have the financial resources or accurate technology necessary to implement an electronic prescribing system.

Avoiding Errors

Make sure you are satisfied that the prescribed drug is the best choice for the patient.

  •       The GMC expects you to talk to the patient about their medication and explain:
  •       likely benefits, risks, and impact, containing serious and common side effects
  •       what to do if they develop side effects or their condition reoccurs
  •       How and when to take the medicine and how to control the dose if necessary
  •       likely duration of treatment
  •       Monitoring, surveillance, and review arrangements.

If care is split between primary and secondary care, it is advisable to have a treaty in place to establish who is responsible for prescribing, monitoring, and follow-up.

EPS enables prescribers to send prescriptions electronically to the dispensing (e.g. pharmacy) of the patient’s choice. This makes the prescribing and allocating process more efficient and convenient for both patients and staff.


For some, the definition of e-prescribing is much more than the simple description given at the beginning of this document. Electronic prescribing has evolved from a data entry gadget with fax capability to a robust application with network connectivity to many entities behind pharmacies and strong error control capabilities. Vendors continue to improve their apps and add more features.

Managed healthcare systems will eventually integrate the electronic prescription record by linking it with other health record systems. It provides many potential benefits for handwritten drug prescriptions, including standardization, legibility, control records, and decision support.

As with all forms of technology, there is always an interest in protecting your data, even if the data is encrypted to keep your health records private and private. The robust and secure e-prescribing system will have multi-layered security protections to help keep patient data safe.


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