Online Medical Help

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Online medical assistance is currently available to physicians in the form of web browser operating systems and palm personal digital assistants (PDAs). Using Windows platforms and hand-held devices, physicians have a veritable drug reference library at their fingertips. In addition, extensive patient information can be called up instantly without having to leave the patient to research material in another room.

The ultimate advantage of these electronic systems is their support for clinical decisions made by physicians. When a prescription is called for, the computer can check each prescription for inconsistencies, such as excessive dosage, or for contraindications given the patient's allergic reactions. With the capability to consult electronic sources of stored information comes fully-informed prescription writing.

Online Support for Medical Decisions

Experts agree that a substantial number of medication errors are avoidable through improved access to drug formularies and information. Almost nine million adverse drug events (ADE) occur every year among non-hospitalized patients. Over three million of these are considered preventable. Medication errors constitute one out of every 131 ambulatory (non-hospital) care deaths.

With statistics such as these as background, the push for ePrescribing is on. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is leading the movement at this point and is backing it with financial incentives intended to bring standardization of ePrescribing to the Medicare program. As this influential program becomes computerized, with uniform standards set for national implementation, the rest of the medical field is bound to follow.

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