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ePrescribing Expected and Preferred in 82% of Older Patients

By Jennifer Bresnick

ePrescribing meets with approval from more than 80% of adults over 50 in a new study from AHIMA.

Electronic prescribing is both an expected and preferred technology for older patients, most of whom have to juggle multiple medications on a daily basis, finds a study published in AHIMA’s Perspectives in Health Information Management.  ePrescribing is generally perceived by patients as safer, more convenient, and more efficient than paper-based prescriptions, and foster improved communication with healthcare providers that may also contribute to improved medication safety.

The survey of seventy-five older adults in the Pittsburg, Pennsylvania area found that 80% of patients had seen more than one physician in the prior year, with 75% of those patients visiting physicians who used ePrescribing technology.  Patients generally took between one and three medications at a time, though 20% took more than six prescriptions, and 53% added between one and three over-the-counter medications to their regimen.  Just over half of the participants were familiar with the concept of ePrescribing, though those patients tended to be closer to the younger end of the survey spectrum.

Whether the patients received ePrescriptions or not, preference for the technology was high.  Eighty-four percent expected electronic prescribing, and 81% preferred ePrescribing to its paper-based counterpart.  Ninety-three percent of patients were very satisfied with their physician in relation to ePrescribing technology, while 84% expressed a similar sense of satisfaction with their pharmacist.

The convenience factor was high on the list of reasons why electronic prescriptions are preferred.  Patients noted that their medications were ready more quickly when visiting the pharmacy, and hassles related to losing paper prescriptions or misreading written instructions were eliminated.  However, patients who preferred paper prescriptions felt that having the prescription in hand led to an increased sense of control over their care.

“Participants most often reported that they ensured that the medications they received at the pharmacy were what the doctor actually electronically prescribed by being aware of their medications, trusting that their prescriptions were filled correctly by the pharmacy, and checking the name of the medication written on the bottle when it is picked up,” the study says.  Only 5.3% of participants were unaware of what medications had been electronically prescribed to them.  One in five received a list of medications that had been ePrescribed for them from their physician to eliminate confusion.

Patients who participated in ePrescribing reported more in-depth conversations with their providers about the importance of medication adherence, potential patient safety issues, costs, and side-effects.  More than 68% believe that ePrescribing improved the quality of care they received from their provider at least somewhat, though more than two-thirds said that electronic prescribing did not increase their medication adherence.

“The widespread implementation of e-prescribing in the past decade might not have been successful without acceptance of this relatively new health information technology by patients,” the report concludes. “This study shows that nearly all patients are satisfied with their prescriber and pharmacy in sending and dealing with e-prescriptions, and e-prescribing is now preferred by a majority of older adults over paper prescribing because of the added convenience to the patient.”

“Future research could identify strategies to encourage patient and caregiver engagement in the e-prescribing process as healthcare professionals use this health information technology in routine patient care. This would enable patients perceive a sense of control and led to their increased confidence in the e- prescribing process.”





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