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Caring for Senior Patients with Electronic Prescriptions

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For those of us providing medical care for senior patients, our mission is very dear to our hearts. This population is vulnerable not only to the ailments of their conditions which may be exacerbated by age, but may lead a lifestyle which, without consideration, could detract from treatment.  

Thankfully, technology has extreme potential to improve how health facilities provide patient care, especially for at-risk populations. Electronic prescribing has revolutionized medication dispensing, allowing physicians to prepare electronic prescriptions instead of handwritten notes. Plus, it provides information and tools to support prescribing decisions, helping doctors preempt problems that could arise because of or in the adherence to a prescription.  

Let’s take a look at why you as an EHR vendor or prescribing practitioner who cares for our elders should enlist an e-prescribe integration or service.  

What Is e-Prescribing?

Electronic prescribing is a technology that enables healthcare providers to create and send prescriptions to pharmacies electronically. Practitioners input prescription information into a computer using dedicated software and send it to pharmacies online. For EHR vendors, this kind of integration can add immense value to your customers and can help practitioners better treat patients.

Plus, e-prescribe technology offers more than just prescriptions, with other tools like drug review, real-time benefit information, and data security, it’s an indispensable asset.

Benefits of e-Prescribing for Elderly Patients

Electronic prescribing potentially mitigates several issues associated with handwritten prescriptions. For instance, illegible scripts can result in inaccurate fills and reduced administrative efficiencies. With an easy-to-read e-prescription, elderly patients can reap the following benefits:

1. Reduced Inappropriate Prescribing

Inappropriate prescribing or IP occurs when a medication is administered that poses more risks to the patient than benefits. In order for a prescription to be considered appropriate, it should be well-tolerated by the majority of patients, affordable, and improve prognoses. Polypharmacy must also be considered when evaluating whether or not a prescription is appropriate. Essentially, just because a medicine can be prescribed, doesn’t mean it should be without other factors considered.

Older patients are especially vulnerable to IP, often coming in with multiple ailments and receiving multiple medications. These patients are at higher risk for side effects and perhaps on a fixed income. In fact, IP is so prevalent, it has been deemed a public health issue among older patients. In the United States, such events affect between 12 and 40 percent of older adults, depending on where they are receiving treatment. And prescribers working with this population need to be able to combat it.

Because IP is a complex issue which can stem from a variety of causes, a variety of tools can help prescribers prevent inappropriate prescribing, and an e-prescribe software can help. Being able to review drug interactions, histories, and insurance coverage can help evaluate if a medication meets Beers Criteria as a PIM (Potentially Inappropriate Medication) and assist with the decision-making process as a whole.

An older or elderly patient sorting out her multiple medication prescribed with an e-prescribe software to prevent inappropriate prescribing and potentially inappropriate medications.
Older populations are particularly at risk for inappropriate prescribing. An e-prescribe tool can help.

2. Harmonization of Patient Records

Additionally, e-prescribing helps integrate patient records across the health service to reduce errors and communication delays between healthcare providers. An older patient maybe seeing one professional for joint pain, another for cardiac health, and another for memory care. Making sure that all their records and information are easily accessed can help prescribers make effective decisions and reduce the risks of polypharmacy.

3. E-Prescription Saves Money

When you e-prescribe for your patients, you save money both for your practice and the patient. For yourself, you’re making decisions that end up streamlining your practice and offer value to your customers if you’re an EHR vendor.

The reduced chance of side effects or readmission also helps both parties save on administering and receiving further treatment. Furthermore, e-prescribe tools allow you to check for coverage and prescribe a medication you know they will be able to afford. Not to mention, this saves you the headache of dealing with denied claims and making calls to the pharmacy.

Also, data from e-prescriptions increases visibility by allowing providers to access a patient’s medication history. The information enables health facilities to explore more affordable treatments for overall cost-effectiveness.

4. Convenience and Efficiency

Sending an e-prescription to a patient’s pharmacy of choice is highly convenient for the elderly. Patients don’t have to make multiple trips which may be challenging with limited mobility and, currently, with the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Another reason to e-prescribe is that there is no risk of older adults losing their prescriptions before reaching the pharmacy. It eliminates the inconvenience of having to request another copy. Updates about whether medications have been picked up can also help preempt nonadherence.

5. Tracking Medication Nonadherence

Medication non-adherence is the failure to take drugs as prescribed, either deliberately or due to ignorance. In senior patients, it may relate to education level, the pharmacist’s explanation of medication, patient counseling, dosing frequency, and health-related or memory issues. When working with elderly patients, it’s also important to consider any caretakers like family members who are the ones making sure their loved ones are adhering to treatment plans.

Before the adoption of e-prescribe, it was hard to track nonadherence when patients forgot, ignored, or misplaced their prescriptions. Pharmacists could not even tell when patients didn’t show up. Without this information, healthcare providers couldn’t do anything after their patients left.

E-prescribing combats medication nonadherence by sending prescriptions directly to pharmacies. It creates an opportunity for pharmacists to intervene when patients don’t pick up their drugs. As a result, prescription abandonment falls, leading to better clinical outcomes in patients.

6. Improved Patient Safety

Older adults have an extensive medical history that healthcare providers should evaluate before recommending treatments. E-prescribing provides the data needed to adjust dosages or add extra medication to enhance therapeutic outcomes in patients.

Further, e-prescribing can help manage the usage of controlled drugs such as opioids. Some states already have legislation that requires healthcare providers to exclusively e-prescribe necessary controlled substances. When employed alongside home delivery services, e-prescribing reduces substance abuse.

E-Prescribing: Views by Older Patients

If you are skeptical about e-prescribing for the seniors, you should consider their views. According to research, here is what older patients say about electronic prescriptions:

Speed and Convenience

Older patients appreciate that their medications are ready more quickly at the pharmacy when prescribed electronically. It saves them the hassle of taking care of papers and misreading lousy handwriting.

Better Patient-Provider Engagement

Patients who get e-prescriptions report having more comprehensive conversations about their medication with care providers. They learn the importance of medication adherence, possible safety issues, side effects, as well as costs.

Improved Quality of Care

Most older patients whose healthcare providers use e-prescribing say they enjoy an improved quality of care.

Considerations for Electronic Prescriptions

Patients can get upset if you ask them to collect drugs from a pharmacy without a prescription. Be sure to educate first-timers on how e-prescribing works. If you can’t convince them, e-prescribe anyway and give them a printout.

Regardless, the most effective way for medical practices to send prescriptions electronically is via electronic health records (EHR) systems. Before implementing a platform to manage and transmit medical data, make sure it includes an e-prescribe integration. If you are an EHR/EMR vendor, it’s time to make sure you include an eRx module or evaluate your current integration.

You can improve the quality of healthcare your practice offers to elderly patients by deploying a reliable e-prescription system. NewCrop offers first-rate electronic prescribing services for accurate, reliable, and safe medication. Schedule a demo with our team today.