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What Is E-Prescribing?

2 Minute Read

Electronic prescribing, or e-prescribing, is a virtual method through which healthcare professionals can generate and transmit prescriptions to pharmacies. This modern alternative to traditional paper-based prescriptions has gained traction in recent years for various reasons — from the benefits it provides to needed flexibility in the pandemic.

Consider this shift: In 2017, 66% of all prescriptions filled were e-prescriptions. In 2021, that number climbed to 94%.

Here, we’ll take a deeper dive into how e-prescribing works, what’s behind its growth, and its relationship to the behavioral healthcare field.

How E-Prescribing Works

E-prescribing functionality is typically integrated into an EHR solution. That way, healthcare professionals can easily create, manage, and transmit e-prescriptions in a system they already know and use.

When an authorized healthcare provider decides on a prescription for a patient, the first step is inputting relevant details into the EHR. This includes pertinent information related to the medication, dosage, and any other important instructions. From there, the e-prescription is securely sent to the patient’s pharmacy of choice — no paperwork needed. Once the pharmacist receives the prescription, they can dispense the prescribed medication.

A pharmacist receives a Medicare prescription drug request for a patient electronically, which helps minimize medication errors and improve patient safety

The Benefits of Electronic Prescribing

The shift from paper prescriptions to e-prescribing offers an assortment of benefits that help explain why healthcare providers have made the shift. Some of the biggest benefits are:

Enhanced Patient Safety

Handwritten prescriptions are more prone to medication errors that can impact patient safety. E-prescribing reduces these risks. At the point of prescribing medication, the system can review a patient’s medication and allergy history. Based on the medication being prescribed, the system can notify the prescriber of any potential impacts related to drug interactions.

Better Accuracy & Legibility

Illegible handwriting in paper prescriptions can lead to inaccuracies in medication dispensing. E-prescribing reduces the chance for prescriptions to be misinterpreted by pharmacists, and in-turn reduces errors.

Greater Workflow Efficiency

By eliminating paperwork, e-prescribing creates fewer burdens for administrative staff and improves the efficiency of healthcare practices. These streamlined efforts allow prescriptions to be filled in less time.

Improved Medication Adherence

E-prescriptions make it more convenient for patients to access their medications. This convenience can contribute to better medication adherence that ultimately supports better patient outcomes.

While reducing medication errors in the prescribing of controlled substances, the e-prescribing process also improves adherence to prescription drug programs that helps yield better outcomes

How COVID-19 Impacted E-Prescribing

It’s no secret that the pandemic vastly accelerated the adoption of virtual healthcare. Alongside telehealth options, there was a rise in the number of electronic prescriptions for controlled substances.

Amid social distancing requirements, e-prescribing became a vital way to help minimize in-person interactions between providers and patients — all while ensuring patients had access to necessary medications. The growth of telehealth appointments also increased the demand for e-prescribing, with the DEA and SAMHSA even rolling out regulations to support the prescription of certain controlled medications via telemedicine.

A healthcare provider is able to facilitate prescription drug plans while accessing a patient's electronic medical record during a telehealth appointment

Looking at E-Prescribing Through the Lens of Behavioral Health

Behavioral health treatment plans include several variables, one of which can include medications. When it’s determined that medication makes sense for a patient’s health care plan, it’s important they can access the medications fast to support their recovery.

E-prescribing provides patients with that timely access to medications, which supports better treatment compliance.

Behavioral healthcare providers can reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients as they have the means to identify medications with lower copays. These savings can be meaningful to patients who might struggle to otherwise afford their medications.

And with the integration between behavioral health EHR systems like ClinicTracker and e-prescribing capabilities, providers can lower the risk for adverse drug events. This helps prevent the exacerbation of current mental health symptoms while avoiding new issues that impact a patient’s overall well-being.

With access to a patient's complete medication profile, the integration between an EHR and electronic controlled substance prescriptions supports a patient's overall well-being

Learn more about our fully integrated EHR solution that’s designed specifically for behavioral health providers.