Advantages of Using E-Prescribing

eprescribingThe following excerpt about electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) is from an article found on DrFirst. It was written by Peter Kaufman.

Improved Patient Safety

The most significant advance that e-prescribing gives providers is in the improvement to the safety and quality of patient care. Access to patient medication history during the prescribing process gives providers better information about home medications and meds prescribed by other physicians. Combining medication history with automated clinical decision support such as formulary compliance, dose checking, drug-to-drug, drug-to-allergy, drug-to-condition and duplicate therapy alerts helps remind providers when there might be an increased risk of over-prescribing, or prescribing medications and combinations that may cause adverse drug events. Accessing patient medication history at the point of care also helps providers more easily identify potential doctor shoppers, particularly in the controlled substance category, thus helping to stem prescription misuse.

Better Prescribing Workflow

Workflow efficiency is another key benefit to implementing e-prescribing for all meds. A Medical Group Management study shows that e-prescribing helps practices achieve an average annual savings of $15,769 per full-time physician, per year. Such savings are realized in the form of lower administrative burdens, including reduced time for providers and staff in clarifying and/or otherwise re-communicating with pharmacies and health plans regarding patient prescriptions. In addition, there is no longer a need to fax or write prescriptions on paper – a more streamlined workflow.

Meeting Meaningful Use Requirements

Another benefit to using e-prescribing for both legend drugs and controlled substances lies in meeting Meaningful Use requirements in light of the schedule change by the DEA last year for hydrocodone combination products (HCP) from Schedule III to Schedule II. The impact of this change has been that with no call-ins or refills permitted, providers have been required to create a greater number of new prescriptions for products like Vicodin, which as a result increased the total number of prescriptions issued. Since Meaningful Use stage 2 requires that more than 50-percent of all prescriptions must be transmitted electronically, an increase in paper prescriptions may push some physicians out of compliance for Meaningful Use attestation.

Patient Convenience

The advantages of e-prescribing for patients are also quite significant. In addition to the patient safety benefits outlined above, patients benefit and copay savings related to formulary compliance from the ease and efficiency of e-prescribed medications. Having medications ready when the patient arrives at the pharmacy, with the formulary compliance check already completed by the physician, and any prior authorization activities completed in advance, there are fewer hurdles for patients. This convenience translates into better medication adherence as well since there is virtually no delay in patient access to their initial prescription. Some studies have demonstrated a 20% improvement in patients picking up their meds at the pharmacy.

Pharmacies Readiness

Nationally, more than 70% of all pharmacies are certified for EPCS.


Lastly, electronic prescribing is simply more secure than paper prescriptions. Paper prescriptions are subject to transcription errors and are targets for theft and tampering, making it relatively easy for drug-seeking patients to alter prescriptions by increasing dosage, number prescribed, or number of refills of medications. E-prescriptions are also delivered directly to the pharmacy, without exposing the physician’s DEA number to the patient. The consequences of DEA number theft include physician identity theft, temporary inability to e-prescribe controlled substances, and a damaged reputation, to name just a few.