One of the biggest advancements in healthcare, at least from a patient-centric vantage point, is the development of telemedicine and electronic health records (EHR). These systems improve provider-to-provider and doctor/patient communications and service delivery.
The result of such developments, especially at a time when in-office visits are limited, is faster, more tailored access to care and better outcomes.
However, one aspect of healthcare digitization that was somewhat overlooked is prescription management. Medications can be prescribed and refilled digitally, to be sure. Such access also allows providers to see a patient’s complete medical history. But, these platforms were not as robust as a dedicated medication management system until we reached a new phase of e-prescription software development.
This brings us to eRx, also known as electronic prescriptions. What are the advantages of incorporating this type of system into medical practice, and how can you ensure that it’s done right?
What is an eRx?
With us for several decades, electronic prescriptions became the recommended means of dispensing controlled substances since 2010, around the same time that the opioid crisis came to widespread attention. The original goal was to reduce errors while providing greater oversight and transparency.
This system allows doctors to prescribe medications electronically, sending the prescription directly to the pharmacy. Push notifications alert the patient when their medication is ready. The system can also be set up to manage insurance claims, remind patients when it’s time to take their meds and let them know when a refill is due.
The benefits of installing dedicated prescription management software include:
* Improve care delivery speed and quality
* Saving time and money
* Greater accuracy and transparency
* Improved patient safety
* Fraud and abuse reduction
* Ensures compliance
However, these benefits are only experienced with successful implementation.
Best Practices for Implementing eRx Systems
Implementing a medication tracking system at your practice will improve the quality of care for your patients, and it could save a substantial amount of money.
Before you begin any type of digital transformation, you need to perform a little in-house evaluation and develop a consensus among your associates.
Analyze your current situation, including your budget, current digital platforms, and the requirements of your patients. Consider factors like patient age and ability, access, to learn and use a new platform. For example, patients from a practice that serves mostly seniors or rural areas may have difficulty with connectivity or experience a steep learning curve. If the system is too difficult to use or understand, patients simply won’t use it.
Next, you’ll want to detail your goals and objectives for acquiring a new patient care platform. Make sure that the system you choose is aligned with these goals and objectives.
If you have considered your budget and feel confident in the cost/benefit analysis of implementing an eRx system resource allocation should be the easiest part of this process.
But, before you begin the process, it’s essential to plan for any potential service disruptions during the transition. It’s also important that your patients, staff, and any relevant vendors are informed early in the process. Creating a patient education brochure will help ease them into the transition and build confidence in its use. Try to also build excitement and enthusiasm among patients and staff long before the final rollout.
It’s important to find out which local pharmacies are enrolled or utilize which eRx systems, and to inform them of your intention to install such a system at your practice. This applies to chains, which may use only specified platforms, and independent pharmacies. The same goes for in-network insurance providers and other stakeholders.
Make sure that your system is in complete compliance with governmental and industry regulations and standards.
Another important factor is to choose a system that works well on a range of platforms, OS, and devices, and that is widely supported among local practices, medical facilities, and pharmacies. Mobile apps add value and encourage use.
The system itself should have multi-factor access control and security built-in. This should include secure, cloud-based storage for prescription histories, saved searches, and other support data. It should also integrate with your state’s PDMP database.
Having created a solid foundation for installation and launch, in addition to choosing a system with broad multi-platform support, it is time to finalize the eRx solution.
Designate one person in your office to manage the system. This helps with oversight and ensures that at least one prescription software expert is on staff. Prior to roll out, do a couple of trial runs to ensure that there are no glitches or other problems. Report any that you find to tech support immediately.
Lastly, have patience as staff and patients adjust to the new system.
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Common Barriers to eRx Software Implementation
The biggest barriers to any digital transformation are leadership, training, and the degree of consensus among key players, such as office managers, caregivers, and the patients themselves. With eRx systems, in particular, several other issues could stand in the way of successful tax software implementation.
Right away, we see that the cost of acquisition, installation, training, and maintenance can be a huge factor, especially in a small or remote practice. When a healthcare facility already utilizes some form of an electronic health records system, this kind of investment could seem redundant or unnecessary.
An additional source of frustration is the lack of a standardized system, which can lead to disruptions and lapses or gaps in communications. Add to the difficulty in getting all team members and patients on board with any change, and the problems involved when learning a new system, and you can see why some care providers are hesitant to make the transition.
Another problem, which is mentioned less frequently, is the reluctance of insurers and drug companies to partake in a system that doesn’t benefit them in any way.
When hand-written prescriptions aren’t an option if you’re looking for a more comprehensive system for managing patient medications, eRx can be a lifesaver in more ways than one. The key to its effectiveness lies in successful integration and implementation.
Our guide is designed to provide some background, along with tips and best practices, in an effort to provide context and the process for a successful rollout.
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