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    Physicians should embrace electronic prescribing

    Medical office automation continues to move at incredible speed. It is no longer just about making the change from paper to electronic technology systems, but also keeping up with the latest benefits that automation has to offer.

    Related: EHRs found to reduce prescribing problems in patients with diabetes

    One good strategy for forward-thinking physicians who are looking for ways to enhance their own efficiency is to introduce electronic prescribing into their daily practice. Doing so has become an important component in helping providers automate their offices in ways that contribute to better and safer patient care, while allowing them to spend more time with patients.

    E-prescribing services

    Like many other automation programs, e-prescribing services and modules can vary greatly. Physicians should look for one that provides them with automated interaction alerts for drug-to-drug, drug-to-disease, and drug-to-allergy interactions, as well as clinically relevant cautionary information — thus reducing the chance of medical errors. Physicians should also be able to view prescription benefits and formulary information, automatically build commonly used pharmacy lists, see medication history for each patient, and access various reports for easier record keeping and tracking. In many cases, the right e-prescribing technology also provides patients themselves with informative guides for the drugs prescribed and/or money-saving coupons. While better serving the patient, all of these components also help physicians increase their HEDIS scores, which can result in more favorable reimbursements.

    Controlled substances

    The best of the e-prescribing programs allow physicians to prescribe all medications in a safe and easy manner, including controlled substances (which require certification from the Drug Enforcement Administration). The use of these substances can be effective in the treatment of acute and chronic pain and disease, but also have the capacity to cause addiction, injury, impairment, and death if abused. As a result, these substances are controlled under the Federal Controlled Substances Act; and physicians must maintain a written record of the prescribing of all such substances. That record must contain sufficient information to justify the diagnosis that warrants controlled substance treatment. Here, too, the right e-prescribing module can help.

    Integration with other systems

    To achieve maximum value from e-prescribing, physicians should integrate this capability with a sophisticated practice-management software and an EHR system (which should also include a lab interface). Doing so helps ensure that all of a patient's medical history is readily available in a private, secure, and accessible location. Other electronic communication tools that physicians should consider adding to their offices include electronic clinical messaging, online patient interaction, and a Web-based clearinghouse. Integrating all of these products and capabilities through automation positively contributes to better patient care as well as greater efficiencies for both physicians and their office staff.

    Partnering for support

    When looking at office automation, it is important to choose the right partner — one that cannot only get you up and running, but who can support your needs on an ongoing basis. In making that choice, look for a company that:

    • Has a track record of success;
    • Provides everything you need under one umbrella, assuring that all components of your office are working in a compatible manner;
    • Has one point of administrative contact, which will provide maximum cost savings for your practice; • Continues to innovate and offer new products and capabilities to serve your needs as technology continues to advance; and
    • Offers exceptional customer support 24/7 so you and your staff can feel secure and confident as you embrace new technologies and transition from paper to automation in a smooth and hassle-free manner.

    As the business of healthcare becomes more and more complex, it is increasingly important that physicians look for ways to make their practice more efficient while delivering exceptional patient care. Relying on automation — including new capabilities for e-prescribing — is a great prescription for success.

    Brian O'Neill is the chief executive officer of Office Ally, which works with more than 330,000 providers and 5,600 insurance carriers and is the only organization in the country offering healthcare providers a full suite of revenue-cycle management services. www.officeally.com

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