Monday, September 17, 2007

Doctor, Retire the Prescription Pad and the Pen

A few months ago, a coalition of companies including Google, Cisco, Allscripts, Aetna, Wellpoint, among others formed an internet based electronic prescribing system. Known as ERx Now, it provides physicians, who register, the benefits of electronic prescribing for free. Benefits include a drug-to-drug interaction check, a check to see if you have an allergy to the prescribed medication, whether the medication is on your insurance formulary or if a generic equivalent is available.

Since the prescription is sent electronically to any pharmacy, you wouldn't have to drop off a prescription and wait for it to be filled or wonder when your doctor would call in the prescription. As long as he had internet access, a complete prescription could be written in the exam room. By the time you reached the pharmacy, it would be ready to go. No wait. No worries. Illegibility is not a problem.

It is a surprising fairly robust program given the fact that it is free. Physicians can access their patient's information, allergies, and medication information, past and present.

As someone who has been electronic prescribing for a couple of years, the ability to provide even safer care with automatic drug interaction and allergy checking, the ease of refilling prescriptions at a click of a button, and the option of accessing critical patient information anywhere there is an internet connection, allows me to deliver better care.

In the past, physicians could argue that installing systems that allowed electronic prescribing, among other features, was simply too expensive. Now, with this free internet program, there is NO excuse not to adopt this practice. The only reason your doctor could justify not getting rid of his prescription pad is if he (a) never heard about this program or (b) doesn't have a computer and/or internet connection. Even then, does that trump your safety?

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