Thursday, June 5, 2008

Putting the cart before the horse

Wall Street Journal reports that congress is working to force doctors to switch from hand-writing prescriptions to using new digital technology referred to as E-Prescribing.

E-Prescribing like all e-Things sounds great until you try to implement it. The problem with e-Prescribing at this time is that there is no one standard that doctors can adhere to, and no assurance that current platforms and protocols will persist.

One of the main reasons that physicians are not buying into electronic medical records is that they do not want to make a huge initial investment, pay for maintaining the system, and invest huge time in training staff only to find out that the government or some insurance industry group changes the standard in a year or two making their expensive systems obsolete.

A minority of physicians already have e-Prescribing in place, but it has limited value for the patient because the doctor’s system is tied to their office, and current pharmacy that the patient uses. If a patient goes to another doctor or switches from Rite Aid to CVS, then all the e-Pharmacy-Records become worthless.

Ideally, as with electronic medical records, there should be an online, universal e-drug-record that is accessible to all treating physicians, pharmacies and hospitals.

Bottom line: before the government mandates e-Prescribing and penalizes paper-prescribers, it should set a standard.

Robert Cykiert, M.D.

1 comment:

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