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ePrescribing Message Types: An Expanding Opportunity

BY Lathe Bigler

Better industry collaboration equates to better patient care and lower costs. This industry-recognized truth is especially true within medication management processes, where errors and preventable adverse events are a focal point of national attention.

It’s understandable why ePrescribing was identified as a critical initiative early within the health IT information sharing movement. When providers and pharmacists communicate with greater efficiency and accuracy, the advantages to patient care and the bottom line are many: safer medication practices, better management of medications costs, improved prescribing accuracy, streamlined workflows and lower costs associated with the reduction of adverse drug events.

National messaging standards have been an important part of the ePrescribing evolution, opening the door for more timely, user-friendly communication between providers and pharmacies. In fact, what began as three simple core transaction types — covering new prescription requests, refills and response — is growing into a much more sophisticated effort that more fully leverages technological advancement.

Awareness of the full ePrescribing opportunity is becoming more mainstream today as the retail pharmacy community works to become a greater clinical source to patients. Ultimately, the industry goal is to lay a framework to ensure both caregivers and pharmacy professionals are on the same page, have the same information and can collaboratively communicate on a high level to elevate care delivery.

Taking Hold of the ePrescribing Opportunity Today

Greater adoption of EHRs and the need for more streamlined pharmacy workflows are advancing design and uptake of ePrescribing message types. While the industry still has a long way to go, pharmacies and providers can leverage current offerings to improve medication adherence, pharmacy profitability and customer loyalty.

A number of new message types that have been introduced in recent years are delivering notable improvements to pharmacy workflows. For instance, RxCancel allows physicians to cancel a prescription electronically, and RxChange allows prescriptions to be modified or changed while being routed to a destination.

Pharmacies that are leveraging these electronic options are minimizing the time spent on follow-up calls with physicians as well as elevating the patient experience by addressing these issues immediately. For example, if a patient decides that medication pick-up from a different pharmacy than the one initially targeted would be more convenient, the change can be made instantly. Also, the accuracy and immediacy of electronic communications reduce the potential for confusion.

RxFill, another key message type that has been introduced in recent years, has the potential to not only improve workflows and customer experience but also elevate care delivery. RxFill is designed to be sent by the pharmacy to the prescriber acknowledging that a prescription has been picked up, ultimately improving tracking measures to proactively improve medication adherence. This is especially important as approximately 30% of prescriptions never get picked up for various reason. If a provider is unaware of a patient’s medication adherence status, there is little that can be done to proactively to intervene.

A Look into the Future

As retail pharmacies become greater partners in care delivery, the need for more collaboration between providers and pharmacists will become increasingly important and will showcase the need for expanding messaging types to support greater sharing of clinical information with pharmacies.

The industry at large recognizes that the maturity of interoperability initiatives will be critical to forward momentum of this aim. The pharmacy community is strongly advocating for better access to patient lab results, diagnosis information and medication history to elevate patient safety and outcomes.

In the meantime, pharmacies can take hold of the opportunities that exist today to advance the potential of electronic communications. Over the next five years, the industry will witness significant growth and uptake of ePrescribing message types as pharmacies recognize the benefits.


Lathe Bigler serves as VP Clinical Network at Change Healthcare.

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E.Hamik says:
Apr-11-2016 09:20 pm

I hope they can figure out how to decrease the errors on e-prescriptions. It is scary the large number of e-scripts we get every day that are flat out wrong. The nurses don't seem to understand the significance of this.

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Walgreens makes naloxone available without a prescription in Pennsylvania

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