“Every physician should prescribe drugs with generic names legibly and preferably in capital letters and he/she shall ensure that there is a rational prescription and use of drugs” is stated in the 1.5th clause of the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002. However many prescribers still do not adhere to this mandate.
The most common means to communicate any form of drug choice and therapy by the prescriber are handwritten prescriptions. However, there are a lot of hazards associated with handwritten prescriptions. The main one being the illegible handwriting making it hard to read the prescription. Misreading the name can lead to providing incorrect medication which is extremely dangerous for the patients. All these discrepancies have been taken care of by the advent of e-prescription tools. E-prescription is the process of electronically generating and providing prescriptions to patients. These prescriptions can be directly sent to the pharmacy through a secure network.
E-prescriptions have developed so much over the years and are beneficial in multiple ways. Some of the benefits are as follows:
- The main advantage of E-prescriptions can get rid of the inaccuracy and medication errors caused by handwritten prescriptions, thus improving patient care. Providing proper medication can help the patient get the best treatment to tackle several diseases.
- The patients may forget to get their previous prescriptions while visiting a doctor. Prescription tools have cloud storage through which a doctor can access the patient’s medical history as well as previous prescriptions.
- Handwritten prescriptions can be easily misplaced or lost which can add work to the medical office in order to rewrite the transcriptions. Since the e-prescriptions are sent to the pharmacies, they can easily access their records for the prescription in such cases.
- E-prescription tools keep track of the different types of medications provided including controlled substances.
- E-prescriptions help save time and resources. There is not much paper wastage, as everything is performed electronically. Lesser time is spent on refilling medications and pharmacies need not constantly contact the patients and their employers regarding the dosage and strength of the medication.
- Common forms of medical non-adherence include taking a lower dose than prescribed, not completing the entire course of medication, and not understanding prescription instructions. E-prescription tools improve medical adherence by tackling such issues.
- E-prescriptions can help reduce readmission risks caused due to adverse drug events like allergies and duplicate (instead of) medications issues.
- Certain e-prescription tools even provide reminder alerts for the patient’s next visit to the doctor.
- Some prescription tools offer e-pharmacy options so that the medication is delivered directly to the residence of the patients.
- The biggest limitation is that many of the doctors are not familiar with using technology making it difficult for them to use e-prescriptions.
- Some of the senior-most doctors are quite resistant to change and rely on the product of their time i.e. handwritten prescriptions.
- Security and privacy of the patient are under question as many of the patients enter a lot of their information online which is susceptible to being leaked or sent to other organisations without intent. These platforms are advised to have an excellent firewall and security setup so that the patient’s information is stored safely.
- The problem of system downline due to a lack of electricity or network issues or hardware issues is a huge concern.
The prescription tool MScribe from Bengaluru-based MedPiper Technologies.Inc has features such as easy tracking of patient history via unique patient IDs from cloud storage. The tool also has scheduling reminders that help the patients stay up-to-date with their appointments. Potential follow-ups are also informed through the in-app messaging platform. The tool has the added bonus of providing the option to order medicines online as it eliminates going to the pharmacy physically, especially during the time of the pandemic.
E-prescription tools have helped lower the incidence of patients taking the wrong medication dosage both of which are related to illegible handwritten prescriptions. Doctors using computer writings allow the patients to correctly see the instructed dosage, thus reducing adverse drug events. A practitioner will type the prescription online and forward it to the next department, or to the pharmacy which will enable efficient patient service.