Why doctors should combine e-prescribing and EHR software

The practice of e-prescribing is changing the way many doctors and patients handle medication access. Legal in all 50 states and mandatory in three of them - New York, Maine and Minnesota - the benefits of e-prescribing have led medical facilities across the country to adopt some form of software that enables electronic prescriptions. 

Computer technology is reshaping more than just the prescription scene, however. From online patient portals to EHR accounts to digital billing and scheduling programs, medical office software is streamlining nearly every routine process for the medical industry. While all of these components have a great deal of merit on their own, medical teams can increase their efficiency even more when they use an all-in-one software that allows them to conduct multiple operations from one place.

Most facilities are combining their online services
For many doctors, nurses, technicians and administrators, the benefits of a combined e-prescribing and EHR software programs are already apparent. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 70 percent of doctors who use e-prescribing tools access them through an EHR dashboard. This can be a significant time saver for these providers. By using a combined program, there's no need to switch back and forth between records and prescription services. Prescribers can view a patient's medical history and needs from the same program that new medication orders are sent through.

Despite the fact that 90 percent of pharmacy are already set up to receive electronic prescriptions, not all doctors are taking advantage of the programs. In some states, more than half of doctors are still using paper prescriptions for their patients, despite the increased security that electronic ones provide.

Integrating programs could help make it easier for more healthcare groups to adopt this helpful technology. By choosing an EHR software that already has an e-prescribing platform, doctors can more easily incorporate the practice into their routines. Trying to add separate e-prescribing software to a facility's operations could be seen as a bigger challenge or make it more time consuming for staff to use effectively. Pitching the idea of an all-in-one program is an easier sell than several disconnected proposals for individual software.

The benefits of electronic services: e-prescriptions
Security, patient privacy and fraud prevention are major concerns for medical providers who want to ensure the best care for their patients and maintain HIPAA standards. With the benefits of e-prescribing, clinicians can have more control over the medications they provide.

For one thing, they are extremely difficult to forge. E-prescriptions can only be accessed by authorized users on secure accounts. Doctors need to log in with secure passwords and their own credentials to create a new prescription for a patient. They can then send an electronic copy directly to a pharmacy, leaving no time for a patient to alter a prescription, or to take a prescription pad and forge their own. Online programs can also automatically store data and flag any potential problems, like patients who try to get refills too soon. It's easier for doctors to overlook refill dates when they're working from hand written records. Electronic records make it easier to catch irregularities and put a stop to prescription abuse. 

This process is also easier for the patients themselves. Rather than going to the doctor's office just to pick up a piece of paper to get a routine refill, patients can simply call it in and head straight for their pharmacy. While this is a time saver for many patients, for the elderly or others with mobility or transportation problems it could mean the difference between having access to a needed medication or being forced to go without. 

The Department of Health and Human Services added that e-prescriptions reduce errors as well. They can be more legible than handwritten scripts which means pharmacists can be sure of what they're reading. These programs can also create alerts to warn of potential problems with a prescription. 

The benefits of electronic services: EHR
Likewise, EHR software can improve patient safety and communication with providers. Online medical records can save changes in real time, so there's no need to worry that medical professionals are working off of different versions of the same record. According to ECPI University, the ability to immediately share records with relevant colleagues at any location improves care coordination efforts, which is safer for patients. 

Keeping records online allows patients to access their own medical files which allows them to check information about their own health. Not only can this help them make more informed, healthier decisions, but it also saves them, and their providers, time when there's no need to call to inquire about data they can look up by themselves instead. 

EHR software that's built for medical use is safer than just any generic digital recording program. Software built for the medical industry is made with the strictest security and privacy standards in mind to keep patients protected and medical teams inline with HIPAA standards.

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Kevin McCarthy's picture

Kevin McCarthy

Industry News Editor

An avid traveler and news junkie, Kevin covers a range of topics from healthcare technology to policy and regulations. As a former journalism student, he enjoys finding stories relevant to small practices and is passionate about keeping them informed. Before joining NueMD, Kevin worked for Turner Broadcasting as a Programming Intern where he conducted legal research and contributed to editorial content development. He received his bachelor's degree in Communication from Kennesaw State University and currently serves as the Industry News Editor at NueMD.

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