Friday, March 23, 2012

e-Prescribing Reduces Prescription Drug Abuse Risk

At a hearing before the Senate Finance Subcommittee on health care in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, a group of experts testified in regards to prescription drug abuse issue in the Medicare and Medicaid systems.  The occurrence of drug abuse is so high; the CDC declared it an epidemic.  Through the use of electronic medical records and e-Prescribing, the committee agreed that the risk of prescription drug abuse could be significantly lowered.

e-Prescribing is the electronic submission of prescriptions providers are now encouraged to use via EMR, replacing the paper prescription pad.  The new electronic method works to minimize dosage errors and reduce the time it takes to go from the doctor’s entry and into the patient’s hands at the pharmacy.  This increases the likelihood the patient will take their medication and improve their health. 

As a core measure of Stage 2 Meaningful Use, doctors participating in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program need to submit 65 percent of their prescriptions electronically.  Now as an integral part of the two public health coverage programs, e-Prescribing makes tracking prescription drug abuse patterns easier.  Through e-Prescribing and EMR, doctors have access the patient’s past and present medication list.  Before submitting a prescription for a certain drug, such as OxyContin or Vicodin, they can see if the patient has taken it before.  If the medication list shows the patient has been prescribed the drug multiple times in the past, they can flag them as being a possible prescription drug abuser. 

Health information exchange also compliments e-Prescribing in decreasing the risk of prescription drug abuse.   “Doctor shopping” is a common behavior of prescription drug addicts where a patient has multiple health care providers to prescribe the same drug and uses different pharmacies to get it filled.  Health information exchange shows providers which other doctors that patient has seen, when, and what drugs were submitted through e-Prescribing.  If it appears that the patient has been seeing multiple doctors for the same drug, a treatment plan can then be implemented to address the patient’s possible addiction issues.  

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