A new study conducted by the Center for Studying Health Systems Change found that physicians who have implemented electronic prescribing in their practices won't go back to paper prescriptions.
However, the report identifies major barriers to using the more advanced features of e-prescribing that many advocates believe offer the greatest potential to improve safety and quality of health care.
"When people look at e-prescribing and say there are certain benefits to be derived from it, there is still a lot of work to be done to get to that point," says Joy M. Grossman, PhD, a senior health researcher at HSC and lead author.
"Particular benefits that the physician practices we studied reported have to do with improving legibility, improving efficiency — particularly with prescription renewals — and having a better medication record for patients. I don't want to downplay those benefits, but there are still challenges to overcome."
While physicians were positive about the basic features of e-prescribing, products often lacked advanced features, or if they had them, physicians often did not use them because of implementation hurdles or their perceptions that the features did not add value.
These advanced features include the ability to maintain complete patient medication lists; clinical decision-support tools, including alerts and reminders; access to patient-specific formulary data; and capacity for electronic communication between the medical practices and pharmacies and PBMs to send prescriptions, clarifications, and renewal requests.
Physicians reported having difficulties obtaining information on their patients' medications that were prescribed by physicians not in the same practice as well as problems "establishing electronic connectivity with pharmacies and PBMs."