New ONC guide aims to help providers maximize benefits of e-prescribing

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has released a new electronic guide to help prescribers maximize the benefits of electronic prescribing.

The guide, "A Prescription for e-Prescribers: Getting the Most Out of Electronic Prescribing," issued Feb. 13, is intended to help prescribers learn more about what to expect from e-prescribing and how to improve their use of the functionality throughout each of the eight stages of the e-prescribing process, including:

  • Identify the patient
  • Review current data
  • Select drug from a menu in the electronic health record
  • Enter parameters and information for the pharmacy
  • Review alerts and advisories
  • Select pharmacy
  • Authorize and sign
  • Review expectations with patient, monitor e-prescribing logs and manage electronic renewal requests

The guide also provides questions that e-prescribers should consider, such as whether the EHR allows the prescriber to store a patient's preferred pharmacy, as well as potential changes to make to better manage medication use through e-prescribing.

"Some of these changes can result in decreased pharmacy call backs to the practice, increased patient satisfaction and improved e-prescribing productivity," the guide states. "Recommendations to create unambiguous prescriptions with standardized information enable effective clinical decision support and enhanced patient safety."

ONC acknowledges that the guide is best suited to prescribers using EHRs, not stand alone e-prescribing systems.

E-prescribing has been increasing steadily. ONC states that 70 percent of physicians are using e-prescribing and that 90 percent of pharmacies can accept e-prescriptions. The service is a focus point for the Meaningful Use program, and studies have shown that it helps with medication management and in reducing drug costs.

However, a stumbling block to e-prescribing has been an inability to use it for prescribing controlled substances. The Drug Enforcement Administration has been working to address this issue, issuing an interim final rule in 2010 and a clarification. In December, the agency took a further step and approved the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission's certification process for the e-prescribing of controlled substances.

To learn more:
- here's the new guide