Enhancing Patient Safety through Better Medication Management

By Rashaad Bhyat

According to Statistics Canada, 52 per cent of Canadians aged 60-79 take three or more medications. As the population ages, the number of people on multiple medications will only increase. With multiple medications comes an increased risk of adverse drug events and a need to be more vigilant than ever in our prescribing practices.

Enhancing Patient Safety through Better Medication Management

Thankfully, modern tools like e-prescribing can help us enhance patient safety through better medication management. In fact, one often-sited U.S. study found e-prescribing reduced prescribing errors from 42.5 per 100 prescriptions to 6.6 per 100 prescriptions in one year, after e-prescribing. Illegibility errors were very high at the baseline and were completely eliminated by e-prescribing.

In Canada, e-prescribing is available through Canada Health Infoway’s PrescribeIT®, a national solution funded by the federal government. PrescribeIT® improves medication management in several ways:

  1. Clinical Communication. Often, pharmacists can have a question about prescriptions, particularly new prescriptions. Such communication has traditionally been conducted via fax, and sometimes phones. And this could mean hours go by before a physician or pharmacist is able to attend to the list of faxes that are piling up. With clinical communication, physicians and pharmacists are able to send secure messages directly from their EMR or pharmacy management system (PMS). Best of all — this communication is tied to a patient’s record.
  2. Dispense Notification. Ever wonder if patients filled their prescription? If you have, your fears may be justified. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 30 per cent of prescriptions generated in Canada by prescribers for their patients go unfilled. PrescribeIT® eliminates that questions about whether a prescription has been filled by issuing dispense notifications when a prescription is dispensed.
  3. Reduced Fraud and Misuse. e-Prescriptions help pharmacists verify the authenticity of a prescription and ensure that no part of it has been tampered with.
  4. Streamlined renewal process. With e-prescribing, physicians receive pharmacy-initiated renewal requests directly into their EMR, linking the renewal to an existing medication in a patient chart.

Infoway has agreements with all 13 provinces and territories and PrescribeIT® has already rolled out in seven provinces. The service has rapidly expanded, and more than 15,000 prescribers, including physicians and nurse practitioners, are enrolled, along with more than 7,000 pharmacies. That’s good news for Canadians who rely on safe prescribing practices to improve their health outcomes.

Have questions about how e-prescribing can help improve medication management? I’m happy to answer them. Meanwhile, you can learn more about the benefits of e-prescribing here.

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About the author
Rashaad Bhyat

Rashaad Bhyat

Dr. Rashaad Bhyat serves as Clinician Leader on the Engagement team at Canada Health Infoway. He is a family physician with a passion for digital health, advising Infoway on numerous initiatives across Canada since 2011, including virtual care, EMR adoption and optimization, electronic prescribing, remote patient monitoring, and increasing patient access to health records. He currently practices in an EMR-enabled family medicine clinic in the Greater Toronto Area.