Finally, medical prescriptions are starting to go electronic in the United States

Thursday, March 26, 2009

De to vanligste typene resepter er «hvit-resept» og «blå-resept». I tillegg brukes «A-resept» ved forskriving av preparater på narkotikalisten, skjema om registreringsfritak for legemidler som ikke er markedsført i Norge og «grønn resept» som ikke gjelder for medisiner, men er råd om kosthold og mosjon.

Last year during the primary campaign (March 5) there was a story here (among others) promoting the use of electronic prescriptions delivered straight to the pharmacy, so that 1) pharmacists don't have to read somebody else's handwriting, and 2) the prescription is available upon arrival. Obviously 1) is much more important considering the effects of prescription error.
Five doctors organizations have launched a Web site and campaign designed to persuade physicians to switch from paper-based prescriptions of medications to electronic prescribing.

The Get Connected campaign, along with the Web site, are focused on helping doctors move from prescriptions written on paper pads or entered into a computer and faxed to pharmacies. The Web site, launched Tuesday, includes a technology guide to help doctors move to e-prescribing. It also provides perspectives of other doctors on the benefits of e-prescribing, and points to connected pharmacies.
About 150,000 doctors across the U.S. now fax prescriptions, but as of Jan. 1, 2009, the U.S. government Medicare program will require that prescriptions it covers be sent electronically, Jessee said.

"We need to pick up the pace," he said.

Backers of electronic prescribing say it can save lives and reduce medical errors. About 8,000 people in the U.S. die every year because of prescription errors, said Newt Gingrich, founder of the Center for Health Transformation and former Republican speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Some doctors are still fighting the move to e-prescribing and suggesting the U.S. government shouldn't mandate the change, he said.
You'll notice that the article mentions both Newt Gingrich and John Kerry and it really is a non-partisan issue.

Fast forward one year and we have this from a local news outlet:
Technology now is at the fingertips of several doctors in Texoma, and many local offices are dropping paper prescriptions in favor of a digital form called ‘e-scripting.' Not only do doctors like it, so do pharmacies. Unlike paper prescriptions, before the patient even leaves the doctor's office, a digital prescription is on its way to the pharmacy.

Lawton Pharmacist Bob Dishman says the new method is a huge improvement, and he's seeing it more and more... "Comes on the internet to our pharmacy, and we just print them off," said Dishman.

Dishman says it also helps pharmacists deal with the all-too-common difficulty in deciphering doctors' handwriting. "It is easier to read than some prescriptions." The new technology could get a needed boost from the federal government, too. The economic stimulus bill signed by President Barack Obama includes about $19 billion that will be put toward health care information technology. It means that written prescriptions soon could be a thing of the past.

... The report also says that only 15% of prescribers use the technology currently, but by 2014 the number is expected to increase more than 75%. Researchers say that switching to e-scripting will prevent 3.5 million medication errors due to misreading a doctor's handwriting.
This is one reason why I'm hopeful about the recovery of the US both economically and in terms of infrastructure, because so many of the problems that need to be solved are so simple to take care of. Ending the anachronistic stance towards Cuba will bring in an immediate $200 million or so into the travel industry for example, and that can be enacted with the stroke of a pen. Other problems like increased broadband and high-speed rail don't require any new technology either. And of course replacing handwritten prescriptions and medical records with electronic ones that can be accessed anywhere is also a no-brainer. 3.5 million less medication errors means perhaps some 10 to 15 million extra hours of productivity for the country (we'll assume a medication error requires at least 3 extra hours to fix), not to mention the health problems that are now avoided by taking the wrong medication.


Anonymous said...

Great articles. I think all medical offices should use eprescribing software to reduce the number of errors.

ePrescribing Software said...

Great articles. I think all medical offices should use eprescribing software to reduce the number of errors.

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