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Five Reasons E-Prescribing Benefits Your Practice
By Matthew J. Hawkins

E-prescriptions offer many benefits over paper prescriptions and can be an important tool as healthcare becomes increasingly electronic. The following are five reasons e-prescribing is the right move for your practice:

1. Adopting e-prescribing is not only rewarded, but failing to do so is beginning to be penalized. According to the American Medical Association, physicians who don’t adopt e-prescribing when eligible will face penalties starting this year. Eligible physicians are subject to a 1.5% reduction in their Medicare payment based on their 2013 Medicare Part B fee schedule amounts during the year. In 2014, the penalty will be 2%.

2. E-prescribing allows you to monitor patient adherence to medication more effectively, increasing quality of care. Many of the physicians with whom Vitera Healthcare Solutions works say one big advantage of e-prescribing is that it increases their patients’ compliance with medication usage by simplifying the prescription-filling process. Paper prescriptions may result in a breach in the patient care continuum because doctors have no accurate means of monitoring whether patients have filled the prescription after the medication has been prescribed. With e-prescribing, however, a refill request goes directly from the doctor’s office to the pharmacy and the practice gets an electronic confirmation that the pharmacy received the request and filled the prescription.

3. E-prescribing saves time and money. E-prescribing streamlines the prescription process in many ways. First, the prescription request is sent to the pharmacy with the click of a button. Second, pharmacists can see the e-prescription information on their computer, reducing their chances of misreading the prescription and reducing or eliminating the need to call the doctor’s office for clarifications. Currently, 30% of all prescriptions require pharmacy callbacks, according to the National Committee on Vital Health and Statistics. Considering that 3 billion prescriptions are filled every year in the United States, 900 million calls result from pharmacists seeking clarification, which makes the time an average practice spends on the phone providing the needed clarifications staggering.

Unlike a paper prescription, an e-prescription is clearly presented and comes with detailed information about the medication, including dosage, side effects, and medications with which the prescription may counteract. This ultimately helps doctors, pharmacists, and patients prevent mistakes and leads to better patient care.

4. There are no more lost paper prescriptions. Paper prescriptions can be misplaced or lost which, in a best-case scenario, is inconvenient for both the patient and the doctor. A lost prescription might result in patients not filling the prescription at all, which could lead to adverse health consequences. Since prescription requests can be sent directly to and be viewed exclusively by the pharmacist, e-prescriptions reduce not only the possibility of being lost, but also the possibility of fraudulent behavior or illegally filled prescriptions.

5. Patients want the convenience. As a society, we are entering a phase of patient empowerment fueled by access to information, improved care, and convenience. A physician’s decision to e-prescribe demonstrates that he or she is up-to-date on medical methodologies for treating patients and is willing to make changes to benefit them. Physicians who e-prescribe enable patients to take advantage of doctor-pharmacy technology, gain important insight into prescription information, and select the location where patients want their prescription filled so they can conveniently pick it up. These important capabilities benefit the patients and strengthen their view of their physician’s technology practices.

Matthew J. Hawkins is CEO of Vitera Healthcare Solutions based in Tampa, Florida.