Offering important advantages like fewer errors, decision support, improved adherence, and reduced adverse drug events, e-prescribing has skyrocketed in the past several years. In April 2014, 70% of physicians were issuing Surescripts network e-prescriptions and 96% of community pharmacies were enabled to accept them.
If your practice is not on board yet, a few key points can help you optimize e-prescriptions for better care management.
1. Determine how your physicians can use e-prescribing as a care management solution.
Any system change faces challenges in adoption. Ideally, the e-prescribing option you go with will fit and build on your practice’s current workflow. Examine the prescription process and assess your practice’s medication management needs. Asking physicians what tools would help them do their jobs better generates buy-in and yields the best results.
2. Consider your patient population and take time to teach them about the new system.
Younger, tech-savvy patients are likely to welcome the switch to e-prescriptions. This population will be eager to take advantage of new opportunities like reminders to take meds, e-requests for refills, and access to drug information through patient portals.
Meanwhile, older patients will need more orientation on these tools. Build in appointment time for explaining the new process. For patients who are not comfortable going virtual, consider coupling e-prescriptions with printed ones or providing medication fact sheets. An effective care management solution should take into account patient as well as physician needs.
3. Select priority functionalities like remote patient monitoring or HIPAA-compliant patient portal integration.
While automated checks on duplicates, dosage, allergies, and drug interactions are fairly standard decision support features, think about other functionalities you want to prioritize in your choice of an e-prescribing system. If your physicians are on board with remotely monitoring medication adherence, you may want a system that offers a mobile phone app. Patients can track when they take their meds and record any symptoms, and physicians can feed this data back into treatment plans.
4. Opt for a format that fits your budget and timeline.
A stand-alone e-prescribing system will have a lower annual cost than a full EHR solution. It will also be easier to train your team on and will lead to enhanced efficiency faster. Meanwhile, the more expensive EHR-integrated system will take longer to implement.
The obvious advantage of the latter is that, once in place, it will serve as a one-stop shop. On an EHR-integrated system, physicians can access not only medication histories, but also diagnosis history, test results, and insurance information as they make prescription decisions. A comprehensive option with a remote patient monitoring aspect or HIPAA-compliant patient portal integration also translates to more training time up front.
5. Factor in direct costs, indirect costs, and opportunities for cost-saving.
In addition to annual software licensing fees, you may need to buy and maintain new hardware. You will also have to invest time for staff training, while the transition requires substantial work on the part of management staff. Short-term lost productivity is unavoidable, and you should account for this cost. On the flip side, there are opportunities to obtain free systems or financial aid through private, state, or federal sources, including Meaningful Use EHR Incentive Programs.
An analysis of the challenges and opportunities of switching over to e-prescriptions at your practice is essential to a successful transition.