Providers perceive e-prescribing as being very efficient

Research Activities, September 2011, No. 373

More and more physician practices are embracing electronic prescribing, believing it to be more safe and efficient than traditional methods. However, there are those in the health care community who question just how efficient e-prescribing really is, citing that it takes longer than handwriting a prescription. A new study recently explored the perceptions of e-prescribing among clinicians and office staff. The findings point to an overwhelming confirmation that e-prescribing is very efficient. Some inefficiencies do need to be addressed, however, in order for e-prescribing to be even more effective.

Researchers collected information from 64 physician practices in 6 States via surveys and onsite interviews and focus groups. All of the practices were using one of six different e-prescribing systems. Overall, 64 percent of participants reported e-prescribing to be very efficient, with another 28 percent saying it was moderately efficient. Clinicians were more likely to rank e-prescribing as very efficient (71 percent) compared with non-clinical office staff (53 percent). The least efficient prescribing methods reported were fax and phone.

During the focus groups, participants cited several efficiency gains from e-prescribing. These included decreased errors and calls to clarify prescriptions, better refill processing, and increased knowledge of formularies and prior authorizations. E-prescribing also made the physician practice look "high-tech" and "efficient" in the eyes of patients, who benefited from not losing paper prescriptions. In terms of inefficiencies, participants reported slow software functionality during busy times, delays in pharmacies receiving prescriptions, and correctly training staff on how to do e-prescribing. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS16394).

See "Perceptions of e-prescribing efficiencies and inefficiencies in ambulatory care," by Kate L. Lapane, Ph.D., Rochelle K. Rosen, Ph.D., and Catherine Dub, Ed.D., in the International Journal of Medical Informatics 80, pp. 39-46, 2011.

Current as of September 2011
Internet Citation: Providers perceive e-prescribing as being very efficient: Research Activities, September 2011, No. 373. September 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/sep11/0911RA26.html