Does Your Doctor Still Use Paper Prescriptions?

Armen Hareyan's picture
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In 2007, patients in US left their doctors office with at least one prescription on 550 million separate occasions. Millions then made two trips to the pharmacy following their doctor's visit, one to drop off the prescription and another to pick it up.

Now with a new technology called "e-prescriptions," a patient can choose to have their prescription electronically transmitted to the pharmacy before they ever leave their doctor's office.

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The process is known as "e-prescribing" and it creates a paperless, more efficient and more convenient approach to obtaining medications. Already in place at more than 40,000 pharmacies nationwide, e-prescriptions are carried from the physician's computer to the pharmacist's computer by a private, secure network operated by SureScripts (founded by the nation's independent and chain pharmacies in 2001).

In addition to cutting patient wait time at the pharmacy, e-prescriptions also improve patient safety by reducing potentially harmful drug interactions and by eliminating the need for pharmacists to interpret illegible handwriting.

Currently 70 percent of the nation's pharmacies accept e-prescriptions, but only 6 percent of physicians use e-prescriptions. In an effort to close that gap, 26,000 pharmacies, both independent and major chains like Acme Supermarket, Cub Pharmacy, CVS/pharmacy, Duane Reade, Giant Food Pharmacy, Kerr Drug, Longs Drugs, Osco Drug, Rite Aid, Sav-On Pharmacy, Stop & Shop, Walgreens and Wal-Mart, have joined to launch "Learn About E-Prescriptions," a nationwide campaign designed to educate patients and physicians on the benefits of electronic prescribing. The campaign is expected to reach 10 million patients this week alone.

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