With changing regulatory frameworks and patient demographics globally, the healthcare industry is constantly evolving in terms of organizational efficiency, quality of healthcare services and cost management. E-prescription is one such technological step which ensures error free prescription and aids in avoiding dispensing of wrong medications. E-prescribing refers to the electronic transfer of an error-free, accurate and understandable prescription from a prescriber directly to a pharmacy. On a basic level, e-prescription system acts as an electronic reference handbook. They can either be used as stand-alone prescription writers or can be integrated with an electronic health record (EHR) system.
E-prescribing has significantly reduced prescription and medication errors and has resulted in fewer call-backs to physicians from the pharmacists for clarification. Moreover, electronic transfer of prescriptions from prescribers to pharmacists has largely aided in streamlining the clinical workflow. E-prescribing can be integrated with EHR systems enabling physicians, the access to not only the prescription information but also to the patient’s medical information in terms of history, allergies, current medication use and all such critical parameters. By allowing physicians to access such vital information, medical errors can be significantly reduced leading to improved patient safety. According to an October 2016 survey by the U.S. food and drug administration (FDA), on an annual basis, medication errors injure nearly 1.3 million people in the U.S. Such medication mishaps can be significantly minimized by use of advanced e-prescribing systems.
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Patient safety can be ensured through e-prescribing by improving prescription legibility and reducing the time required to prescribe and dispense medications to the patients leading to minimal medication errors and adverse drug effects (ADEs). Most of the e-prescription systems include medication decision support (MDS) which assists prescribers in avoiding prescription errors. Such programs check for drug-allergy, drug-drug interaction and drug disease interactions as well as dosing recommendations. E-prescribing largely improves the efficiency of prescription process. Though actual drafting of a new prescription in e-prescription system can take a few seconds longer than writing a prescription, the time is compensated by the time saved owing to the fact that less or no clarification is needed for an electronic prescription at the pharmacist’s end.
Some of the key driving factors responsible for growth of the e-prescribing market are government initiatives to implement e-prescription systems in order to reduce medication errors and improve the quality of healthcare, high healthcare IT expenditure in developed countries and integration of e-prescription with EHR systems. However, factors such as high initial investment, concerns related to security of patient information and shortage of high speed broadband services in developing countries can hamper the growth of e-prescription market.
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The major players operating in the e-prescribing market focus on innovation to develop technologically advanced e-prescribing solutions in order to stay ahead of their competitors in terms of market share. For instance, in February 2015, Imprivata, Inc., a healthcare IT security solutions provider, launched Confirm ID, software for electronically prescribing controlled substances. Some of the key players in e-prescribing market are, Epic Systems Corporation, Cerner Corporation, Quality Systems, Inc., DrFirst.com, Inc., Henry Schein, Inc., Surescripts, LLC and Practice Fusion, Inc.
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