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Electronic Prescriptions: The Forced Innovation That Is Here To Stay

Matías D'Elia

CPO Conexia |

Prescripción electrónica permite generar recetas digitales

The possibility to do so has existed for some time, but the advantages were not so evident as to support a process of innovation and digitization of medication management within a framework that had accumulated several decades of natural failings, in addition to regulations that continued to enforce that prescriptions should be formulated on paper and signed in person by the prescribing physician.

The advent of the pandemic, and the need to digitize stages in the access to healthcare, was the necessary impetus to take this and other leaps that, like every leap amid an emergency, was neither the most planned nor the most harmonious from the point of view of its implementation. The truth is that we forgot the concept of paper prescriptions and moved to digital ones almost immediately.

Most countries in the region have rapidly regulated the incorporation of this digital tool into the medication management process, and pharmacies have also had to adapt their traditional workflow to this new modality. But what is an electronic prescription really? What possibilities open up when moving from a strictly analog model to one supported on a technological platform?

Electronic prescription is a process that allows a medical service provider to generate digital prescriptions quickly and easily, providing a greater degree of patient safety and better access to pharmacies.

The advantages of electronic prescriptions are clear and there is ample evidence of the high impact they have on the drug management process; these advantages include:

  • Reduction of dosage and dispensing errors, increasing patient safety.
  • Simplification of the prescription and dispensing process, saving time for all stakeholders.
  • Improvement of the patient experience and an increase of patient satisfaction due to immediate availability, at any time.
  • Improved traceability and documentation of patient medication history.

Paradoxically, electronic prescribing has been one of the most neglected aspects of the digital transformation process in Latin America’s healthcare industry. Unlike other healthcare processes such as pre-authorization of medical benefits or accounts – processes where Latin America has made advances that exceed even those in more developed countries like the United States – in terms of electronic prescription, the region is stuck well behind. For reference, in the United States it is estimated that during 2018, 85% of drug prescriptions were in electronic form.

In this context, the high impact of the effects of the pandemic has been a determining factor in promoting change. Despite this, the digitalization of this process by the providers is slow, being that they are at the starting point of the acquisition of the highly critical technology necessary to complete this process.

In addition to the advantages listed above, no healthcare professional can keep in mind the side effects, drug interactions, and possible contraindications of all the medications they prescribe. With the use of Conexia’s Integral Medication Management module, it is possible to generate a fast and efficient prescription, delegating to the system the validations mentioned and allowing the provider to focus on the specific treatment and generation of the instructions of use (quantity, frequency and time) for the patient quickly and accurately.

In addition, if the process of digital medication management is linked with a process of generating digital medical records, other processes will be simplified as well, such as automatic checks of allergies or contraindications related to weight, sex, age, as well as pre-existential pathologies, among others.

Additionally, statistics indicate that in the United States, approximately 20% of medication prescriptions made on paper are never submitted for dispensation. Through comprehensive electronic medication management, the physician can identify undispensed prescriptions and inform the provider so that the provider can in turn alert the patient of the possible consequences to their health.

The process of digital transformation of medication management has already begun and won’t be turning back. We will see much progress in this regard in Latin America in the coming years.

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