Secure Prescriptions

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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ePrescribing is the future of prescribing medication because it provides a much more efficient infrastructure than the current arrangement of handwritten prescriptions. Its superiority in every aspect of the prescription process is clear, from the speed with which a prescription can be written to the ease of obtaining refills. Physicians, patients, and pharmacists benefit from electronic prescribing, so why is ePrescribing still not a universal system in the United States?

Grants for Physicians

Physicians state that financial considerations are the number one impediment to installing an electronic operation in their medical practice. Because no one can force physicians to pay for equipment or other medical supplies, the government has legislated financial incentives and grants to alleviate financial concerns. The basis for these financial arrangements is a towering piece of legislation, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003.

This law requires that ePrescribing become the norm throughout the Medicare system, and that standards be set within a few years for these electronic systems. This law also mandates compliance with its provisions by April 1, 2009. Financial payouts to physicians for implementing these mandates have several layers, including grants in the amount of $50 million for fiscal year 2007, and unspecified amounts as needed for 2008 and 2009. These grants must be used for purchasing, leasing, and installing software and hardware, including hand-held devices. Other provisions include grants for upgrading existing systems for ePrescribing, and for training and education of support staffs.

One of the top concerns about any system is patient privacy and the security of their records. Regardless of the type of infrastructure, these concerns must be addressed and allayed. Secure prescriptions are already being transmitted via the Internet, as are orders from customers for all kinds of purchases. Future infrastructures will incorporate the latest technology to ensure that prescriptions and all other patient information are secure.

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