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EMR ePrescribing Standard

Did you hear the one about the guy who complained that he was being hung with a new rope?

The government tells physicians that they have to have ePrescribing if their EMR is to meet “meaningful use standards” thus qualifying use for subsidy moolah. Providers can qualify for up to $44,000 in some cases, encouraging them to use ePrescribing. There are those physicians who prefer to dangle from the comfortable old paper rope.

My point about dangling from a paper rope, perhaps dubious, is that maintaining clinical records and writing prescriptions is part of practicing medicine. Is there a better way to write prescriptions than the physician's scrawl on a pad? Yes. Are there problems? Yes again, but nothing that can't be overcome.
State regulations differ with respect to the writing of prescriptions. If your state bans electronic transmission of controlled substances, there’s not much you can do about it. This is a special burden for specialties that manage arthritis and other forms of pain. But I have a feeling that states will be under increasing pressure to modify their laws to conform to something in the order of a national policy.

Another problem seems to lie with patients. At the encounter, the patient will say this pharmacy is okay, sure. Then later comes the oh, oh. The patient calls. He or she has had a change of mind,forcing you to repeat the prescription drill. In small towns with a handful of pharmacies, that’s not a big deal. But in a large city it can be a hassle. One solution, go through the drill of entering all possible pharmacies into your system together with cross streets. Google's maps will show you the exact location of every address in the city. That’s a boring, time-consuming chore, but once you have entered into your system, patients who change their mind won’t be a problem. That's assuming you have an EMR system that's worth having.

There are still pharmacies out there that won’t accept E-Rx and force you to fax prescriptions. As more and more practices get EMR to keep up with the times, you’ll likely see fewer and fewer of those pharmacies. They’ll join the bone yard along with practices that refused to switch from paper to EMR and decline to participate in the national effort to share EHR. Yet another complaint is that the E-Rx drill forces the provider to be more precise in writing a prescription and in some cases fill in blanks that are essentially redundant. A waste of time, providers say, casually overlooking the huge chunks of time that EMR saves.

Finally, there are providers out there who bought EMR systems that are not equipped to handle ePrescribing. They are waiting for their vendor to make changes that will let them write E-Rx. As the CEO of a company that has for decades stayed current with technology and whose system covers all the meaningful use basics, I smile.