Modernizing Prescribing Practices to Improve Patient Care

By Christine McGinley

As I enter my “prime” years of life (yes, the sixties), I find myself needing a few more prescriptions than in the past. At my last annual physical, my doctor gave me a handwritten prescription, which I quickly lost somewhere between the car and my home. Replacing it seemed like a huge hassle. I don’t know what shocked me more: the fact that I needed the prescription, the fact that I lost it, or the fact that it was handwritten, in our digital world.

Doctor looking at a desktop computer

But the reality is, prescriptions will most likely be more and more a part of my and my spouse’s lives moving forward. Therefore, I want safe, convenient, and confidential access to my prescriptions, and a sense of confidence that my transactions are well documented and accessible to those to whom I give consent. And as my spouse and I travel, something we plan to do lots of in our prime years, I want to know we can quickly access prescriptions in the “not so rare” event where I leave my personal care bag back at home on the counter.

Fortunately, e-prescribing is a solution. It will enable my doctor to send a prescription electronically to my pharmacy of choice. And, even better, many pharmacies will deliver the filled prescription right to my door. When it comes time to renew the prescription, a pharmacist can quickly and easily request an e-renewal from my physician — though my physician still has the ability to ask to have me visit instead, if needed.

While e-prescribing will give me greater comfort, it will also help my doctor provide better patient care. Specifically:

  • When a prescription is sent electronically, it removes the risk that the prescription will be lost or misplaced.
  • Clinical communications allow better communication (faster and more efficient than telephone or fax) between the physician and pharmacist to discuss the medication plan for their patient. These clinical communication messages can be attached to the patient record, and the ease at which they can be done means that doctors and pharmacists alike will be able to spend more time directly with the patient.
  • Dispense notifications (the messages that are available in the patient’s record from the pharmacy’s PMS to indicate that a medication has been dispensed) provide better information to the physician without clogging up their inbox, allows them to better track medication adherence and can support them in providing better patient care. In fact, e-prescribing itself has been shown to increase first fill compliance.

Health care transformation is a substantial undertaking. From a patient perspective, e-prescribing is a simple digital solution that supports medication management and patient safety at any age.

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About the author
Christine McGinley

Christine McGinley

Christine McGinley is a chartered accountant and has over 25 years of senior management experience, specializing in the areas of operations, technology and finance. Currently, Christine is serving as Chair of the PrescribeIT® Strategy and Industry Alliances Committee of the Infoway Board of Directors.