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Community pharmacists and technicians are mostly satisfied with e-pres

Research Activities, January 2009, No. 341

Community pharmacists and technicians are mostly satisfied with e-prescribing

Electronic prescribing, or e-prescribing, promises many potential benefits to physicians, pharmacists, and patients. It can reduce the incidence of prescribing errors by pointing out possible drug interactions, reduce time spent deciphering and transcribing handwritten prescriptions into the pharmacy computer system, and allow prescriptions to be filled as patients are en route to the pharmacy.

Researchers analyzed responses from 1,094 surveys that pharmacy staff completed at 276 chain pharmacies in six States between April and July 2006. Technicians (55.3 percent) most often completed the survey, and pharmacists (40.8 percent) were the second largest group of respondents. The researchers conclude that pharmacists were generally satisfied with their e-prescribing systems and preferred them to hand-written prescriptions that can lead to pharmacists misinterpreting physicians' intent. Pharmacy staff also indicated they preferred e-prescribing's efficiency compared to more time-consuming hand-written or telephone prescriptions.

Pharmacists typically rated e-prescribing slightly more favorably than pharmacy technicians on a five-point scale for categories such as the effect e-prescribing has on patient safety (pharmacists' score 3.92 versus technicians' score 3.71) and its efficiency (3.91 versus 3.66). However, pharmacists gave lower scores, ranging from 3.33 to 3.43, for e-prescribing's effect on communication and relationships with both patients and physicians.

Those surveyed also provided 2,235 written comments, of which 57 percent addressed challenging features to e-prescribing. These included prescribing errors, in which the clinician prescribed the wrong drug or gave incorrect directions, and patients arriving at the pharmacy before the pharmacy received or filled their prescription. Positive written comments remarked on improved legibility and speed to process the prescription.

The researchers provide best-practice recommendations for e-prescribing. These include having physicians personally enter the data or check their staff members' work before sending prescriptions and ensuring physicians have the error-checking features of their software enabled to prevent medication errors. This study was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS16394).

See "Evaluation of e-prescribing in chain community pharmacy: Best-practice recommendations," by Michael T. Rupp, Ph.D., B.Pharm., and Terri L. Warholak, Ph.D., B.Pharm., in the May/June 2008 Journal of the American Pharmacists Association 48(3), pp. 364-370.

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Page last reviewed January 2009
Internet Citation: Community pharmacists and technicians are mostly satisfied with e-pres: Research Activities, January 2009, No. 341. January 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.