Saturday, June 7, 2008

My experience with e-prescribing

I have worked with an e-prescribing system for the past 8 years. In short, I think e-prescribing will eventually be a good thing for patients and the health care system. There are a lot of organizations and politicians calling for the rapid implementation of e-prescribing. I'd like to warn every one against the siren call of computer technology and the internet solving our problems. A workable solution has not been produced yet, because there are a lot of technical problems and costs. Remember, you can't get something for nothing. That's why <10% of doctors currently use e-prescribing technology. Before e-prescribing is mandated, I recommend we set technical standards and provide adequate remuneration for buying the necessary hardware plus software. Otherwise, e-prescribing will simply be another expensive and aggravating part of our already extremely fractured and dysfunctional health care system. The system I use currently and the systems I have examined all do not work seamlessly with the other parts of our health care system. The increased time and effort I spend using the e-prescribing program is not offset by lower costs using e-prescribing, so I am frequently thinking about reverting back to paper prescriptions and waiting until real advances occur. In summary, more e-prescribing is not better, until I think we decide on standards, on how to pay for e-prescribing, and have realistic expectations of e-prescribing .

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