E-prescribing: What's holding it back?


From my comfy ringside chair, e-prescribing sounds like the most logical thing in the world.

Not only does it spare pharmacists from having to read indecipherable physician scrawls, the technology (or connected systems) can easily check that dosages are appropriate for patients and new meds don't interact with a patient's existing meds. (And I sure would have liked to have easy electronic access to prescriptions last week when my four-year-old dumped out my purse on a whim and managed to lose his amoxicillin script.)

I also assume, though I don't have data on the subject at hand, that a well-populated e-prescribing database would make it tougher for addicts to
pharmacist- or physician-shop to get their drug of choice.

On top of all this, nothing I've read suggests to me e-prescribing needs to be particularly expensive to implement.

Still, it seems pressure groups from various sectors--private and public--are continuing to have to keep the heat on to foster adoption of this technology.

My question is, if e-prescribing is such a no-brainer, why would so many concerted campaigns (see one example below) even be necessary? What am I missing here?

I'd be interested to hear directly from you, oh-so-Dear Readers, what you consider to be the major obstacles to e-prescribing adoption. Is integration tougher than it's been made up to be? Does it mess up physician workflow in ways that haven't been addressed?

Are we dealing with a "teaching an old/middle aged physician new tricks" problem? Or are there deeper, systemic problems (such as issues in transmitting data securely, managing databases and integrating systems), that are far less trivial than they've been made to appear?

If you have some answers, I'd love to hear them. From where I sit, we should already be in the process of making paper scripts obsolete, but I know I have an incomplete picture on my end. What do you think needs to happen next to get this thing moving? (Or should it move along at all? Are there problems the industry is glossing over?)  Let me know what you think! - Anne

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