Healthcare News & Insights

Some e-prescribing kinks still must be worked out, study says

E-prescribing is catching on, thanks to federal incentives, but doctors using electronic prescriptions still face many challenges, according to a recent study.

There are many benefits of e-prescribing for doctors and patients, such as increased efficiency and a reduced risk of errors caused by handwriting and manual data entry mistakes. However, there are still some kinks that must be worked out in the electronic communication between physicians and pharmacies, according to a recent study conducted by the Center for Studying Health Systems Change (HSC).

Researchers interviewed 114 pharmacies and physician practices about the electronic exchange of prescription data. While both groups were generally satisfied with the electronic transmission of new prescriptions, the study did find problems with electronic renewals and using e-prescriptions with mail order pharmacies.

For example, the study found:

  • 25% of the pharmacies surveyed don’t send electronic renewal authorization requests, either because they don’t have the capability, or they choose not to in order to avoid transaction fees from some e-prescribing vendors.
  • Many practices said they often receive multiple renewal requests via different methods (electronically, by fax, by phone, etc.), even after the practice responded to an initial electronic request.
  • Many pharmacies reported that physicians often respond to electronic renewal requests by other means, or deny a request and send the same prescription electronically as a new order.
  • 75% of practices reported difficulties with sending electronic prescriptions to mail order pharmacies, including not knowing which pharmacies accept e-prescriptions, and frequently having to fax prescriptions because an electronic transmission didn’t go through.

To avoid those challenges and reap the benefits of e-prescribing, practices are recommended to communicate with pharmacies when they start using electronic prescriptions to make sure the pharmacies the practice works with are prepared to handle them.

To read more results from the HSC study, download the report here.

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