Digital Medicine

: 2018  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 46--47

Expanding the reach of electronic prescribing: A call to action

Blake Wassom, Annesha White 
 UNT Health Science Center, Fort Worth, Texas, USA

Correspondence Address:
Blake Wassom
3500 Camp Bowie Blvd, Res Bldg, Office 302E, Fort Worth, Texas 76107

How to cite this article:
Wassom B, White A. Expanding the reach of electronic prescribing: A call to action.Digit Med 2018;4:46-47

How to cite this URL:
Wassom B, White A. Expanding the reach of electronic prescribing: A call to action. Digit Med [serial online] 2018 [cited 2023 Jun 9 ];4:46-47
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Full Text

Dear Editor,

The emergence of computerized physician order entry (CPOE) and electronic prescribing in recent years has contributed to improved patient health outcomes and greater efficiency in the dispensing of prescription medications. However, implementation has been met with challenges, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where slow adoption of evidence-based prescribing patterns and poor infrastructure play a critical role.[1] Commonly cited barriers for developed countries include acquisition and maintenance costs, insufficient training, lack of standardization, and the relevance and timeliness of clinical alerts.[2],[3]

Electronic prescribing offers several benefits compared to traditional handwritten prescriptions including the ability to interface with clinical decision support (CDS) at the point of order entry. In a 2013 review article, Holloway et al. reported that in primary care settings of developing or transitional countries, only 50% of medical interventions were in accordance with standard treatment guidelines.[4] Inappropriate utilization of medications remains a serious problem, one which might be remedied in part by broader implementation of CPOE with CDS and e-prescribing. This technology also reduces the potential for medication errors, a grave concern to health-care systems worldwide. Illegibility and lack of completeness are factors that contribute to medication errors. E-prescribing can mitigate such risks by reducing transcribing errors and facilitating completeness. Other studies have reported cost savings, improved patient safety, and greater coordination of care as a result of e-prescribing.[5]

Each health-care system is unique, and barriers to implementing health information technology should be addressed on a case-by-case basis. However, low- and middle-income countries can look to the successes of developed countries in furthering the implementation of CPOE and e-prescribing. The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 created a 5-year program to incentivize the utilization of electronic prescribing in the United States. Over this period, the percentage of prescribers using e-prescription software in the United States increased from 7% in 2009 to 70% in 2014.[6] Governments of developing countries may consider promoting the adoption of e-prescribing by providing legal and financial incentives to prescribers.[7]

Health information technology has revolutionized modern medicine. The benefits of CPOE and e-prescribing are well-documented in the literature, but much work lies ahead in making it universally accessible. Regardless of the current challenges, health systems should develop a tailored strategy to more fully implement health information technology into the prescribing process.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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