It is startling to note that amongst the leading causes of death such as Road Traffic Accidents, lifestyle diseases (such as hypertension and diabetes) and chronic diseases (such as pneumonia, AIDS etc), ranks death due to ADRs (Adverse Drug Reactions). In fact the FDA states that in the US there are over a million ADRs a year of which 100,000 deaths occur. A celebrity death that occurred in 2009 that rankles us, was also due to an ADR of prescription drugs, apparently to manage his insomnia. E-Prescribing is hence a beginning to completely eliminate traditional paper based medical prescriptions. Traditional Paper based medical prescriptions is fraught with multi-fold problems – illegibility of doctor’s handwriting, errors during dispensation, lack of information on insurance coverage to name a few.
E-Prescribing has several other advantages than simply replace paper:
1– E-Prescribing can enable the physician to improve the quality time spent with the patient. E-Prescribing also helps the physician collate data in a structured manner and with minimal typing.
2- Secure Remote Access: The physician can renew or review his prescription at any time even outside the physician’s office.
3– Access to Drug Formulary: The physician can have real time access to the drug formulary and review available stock which allows the physician to prescribe substitute drugs if needed. Generic to Trade name mapping helps physicians to prescribe cost effective drugs. 4 – Of course E-Prescribing eliminates writing and the risk of illegibility.
5 – Drug – Drug, Drug – Allergy and Drug-Diagnosis Alerting: EMR Software integrated with Drug Databases and Rules Engines can enable the Doctor to prescribe medications more accurately taken into consideration prescribed drugs, ongoing medications, patient allergies and diagnosis codes.
6– Medication Charting and Review of Patient Medication History – A quick view of medication charts gives the doctor a summary view of medication administration. The historical medications, its frequency, dosage, strength and period is available on quick view.
7 – Prescription Print Labeling – Since prescription data is available electronically this allows the pharmacist to stick prescription print labels against every dispensed medications, which is also an FDA norm.
8 – Improved Insurance Coverage Data – The doctor can instantaneously have access to drug exclusions, insurance policies and recommend alterations in a quicker manner.
9 – Integration with Health Authority Monitoring: E-Prescription is adopted in Dubai to enable insurance companies to manage fraud, abuse and wastage of prescription drugs. Integration from the physician’s office to the Insurance Companies via the Health Authority Post office reduces the cycle time for the patient waiting time and for claim approvals.
It would be interesting to note of any Health Economics data of the patient outcomes on implementation of E-Prescribing but it surely must have an impact on better patient outcomes, reduced cases of ADRs, reduction of health expenditure and an overall efficiency of the health system.