Survey Underscores Need for Efficient Prescribing Modalities

Americans want their providers to use electronic methods to prescribe medications, according to new survey findings.

A DrFirst survey conducted in December of 2020 found nearly three-quarters of Americans (72%) prefer their doctor to use a mobile prescribing tool when away from the office. Findings also revealed 53% of respondents said some of their prescriptions are still sent to pharmacies via phone, fax or paper. This can lead to potential days-long delays in receiving even urgently needed medications.

A total of 1,004 U.S. consumers over the age of 18 took part in the national online survey. Results indicated four in 10 Americans have had to wait at least over night or a weekend for their doctor to return to the office and send a prescription, while over half of patients surveyed reported waiting for prescriptions for controlled substances. In 2020, over 4.5 billion prescriptions were filled in the United States.

Waiting is not an option for some patients in need of acute care and can lead to unnecessary emergency department visits. Although most e-prescribing takes place in a physician’s electronic health record (EHR) system, for those out of the office, mobile e-prescribing with a smartphone can offer real time help for patients.

When it comes to prescribing controlled substances, 72% of those surveyed said their doctors still use paper prescriptions. This measure was required until 2010, but since then, DrFirst has developed technology for electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS). Many states currently mandate EPCS and it will be required by the federal government in 2022.

According to the organization, EPCS can help prevent opioid abuse, avoid prescription fraud, and improve prescribing safety, efficiency and patient satisfaction.

“At this point, there is simply no reason for physicians to continue keeping spare prescription pads around the office, and especially not using paper prescriptions for controlled substances,” said Colin Banas, MD, the chief medical officer at DrFirst.

Some doctors may be adhering to older methods because their current system does not include EPCS functionality, or they don’t have access to their practice’s system outside of the office.

“E-prescribing is safer for several reasons, including automated interaction and allergy alerts, access to patients’ medication history, and artificial intelligence that can help avoid keyboard errors,” Banas said.