In today’s world, the focus seems to be on electronics and new technology. Electronics are attractive to companies because they compile information all in one place and leave space more organized. With this, practices that have been around for centuries are in need of restructuring themselves to keep up with the modern times. So, what does this mean for doctors and the medicinal practice? They need to start going electronic, too! This is a profession that is centuries old and has the newest advancements in technology on some terms, but is extremely lacking in others – like all the paperwork! Doctors and hospitals are moving towards electronic prescriptions and records. Although concerns have arisen about this new system, the many benefits seem to outweigh those concerns.
Many doctors have already chosen to use electronic prescriptions because they see the many benefits of this practice. Electronic prescriptions (e-prescriptions) will help to eliminate many dilemmas that arise with paper prescriptions. For example, e-prescriptions reduce the chance of a paper prescription being misplaced or misread (since doctors are notorious for their bad handwriting). They will also be faster because the doctors can send the prescription directly to the pharmacy and it should be ready when you arrive. E-prescriptions will be able to forewarn if the patient is allergic to the prescribed medication. Importantly, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has approved the use of e-prescriptions for the time being as they prove themselves beneficial to the world of medicine.
E-prescriptions can prevent medical incidents before they happen, such as asthma attacks. One of the many advantages of using this new system is it gives doctors the ability to regularly track patients’ use of medications. A doctor can automatically refill the prescription and alert the patient about the refill. This could prevent an asthma attack because the patients’ meds won’t run out and their inhaler will always be ready at hand. A full prescription will get patients in the habit of routinely using their inhaler; therefore, reducing the risk of asthma attacks. By monitoring a patient’s routine use of an inhaler, doctors can also decide if the prescribed medication is the best one for the patient.
Additionally, electronic patient records seem to be the next step for hospitals. In fact, hospitals will be required to have most of their records filed electronically by 2015. This will endure prompt and correct information. Patients will receive better care because electronic records will be able to alert a doctor before they make a mistake. This will help to eliminate medical malpractice and medication mistakes that may be otherwise overlooked. Also, hospitals and doctors will benefit from the use of electronic records because they will receive money from Medicare and Medicaid for complying with the electronic system.
One concern that has arisen from the practice of electronic prescriptions and health records is confidentiality. Patients have expressed fear that personal information will be exposed to public access. However, the electronic information is secure. Doctors and hospitals can ensure confidentiality and privacy to its patients. Hence, the future of electronic healthcare looks bright. Now that the journey is underway for many, we will wait and see if the hectic schedules of remaining doctors and hospitals can allow time for conversion to electronic healthcare.