Some of the 7,000 patients who die and 1.5 million people who are injured by medication errors each year – Institute of Medicine figures – are casualties of handwritten prescriptions or uncoordinated systems or both. Any degree of scrawl is a risk factor for a dispensing error, while the want of coordination means fewer ways to check for errors. A business agreement announced on July 1 follows an ergonomic path to safer prescribing.
Encouraged by the government and business groups, two major networks that deliver electronic prescriptions to pharmacies and insurance companies have agreed to merge their networks. New products that work with one will work with the other. The combined entity, SureScripts-RxHub, brings former rivals SureScripts and RxHub together in a single system for exchanging digital health information.
Through pharmacy benefit managers, SureScripts-RxHub will have access to 200 million patient records and about 70 percent of all drugstores in the United States. The merged network expects to transmit 100 million paperless drug orders this year, which would nearly triple the present number of digital prescriptions written in the United States.
A Washington Post article about the switch notes that only 2 percent of the 1.5 billion annual prescriptions are submitted electronically to pharmacies.
The merger could encourage doctors to make the switch to the e-route from handwritten paper prescriptions and phone calls to pharmacies – a system that is anachronistic, as well as risky, in this age of electronics.
The merged set-up reduces other risks: it will let doctors see all the medications their patients take so they don’t order drugs that interact with one another. It will also check prescriptions for doctor errors.
Sources: SureScripts-RxHub; Washington Post