Innovative Health Care

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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The field of medication prescribing has seen the beginnings of truly innovative health procedures based on electronic communication among medical professionals. As of now, standards exist for some ePrescribing transactions, but standards have yet to be developed for the areas of formulary and medication history. The potential for revolutionary technological advances in the medical field exists, and it is verging on becoming reality.

Electronic Solutions

Respected health organizations are urging the adoption of electronic prescribing, as they agree a major overhaul is needed, if only to prevent medication errors. Presently, health providers can use either pocket PCs, palm, Smartphone, or web browser platforms. For web browser operating systems, Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000, and XP perform well; present systems require Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher. They perform best with a constant connection, although an on-demand dial-up connection of at least 56KB is acceptable.

Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are handier for mobile health workers, and these require an operating system of Palm OS 3.5 or higher. The point is, existing ePrescribing systems use readily available technology to operate and to enable superior communication regarding prescription writing. Using just these common platforms, electronic prescription systems allow health workers to write accurate, legible prescriptions rapidly and to transmit them instantly to the pharmacy selected by the patient.

These systems permit real time formulary checking that is patient-specific, and real time viewing and printing of the patient's medication history. Other critical functions include a Drug Utilization Review (DUR) during the writing of the prescription to discover any drug/food interactions. Part of the capabilities of these digital systems is maintaining both hardcopies and electronic files of transaction records. These are remarkable advances over the present system, but future advances will make these seem rudimentary.

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