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What is electronic prescribing?

Have you ever seen your doctor or someone at a hospital send an order to the pharmacy by computer? That's electronic prescribing (e-prescribing).

With e-prescribing, your doctor enters your prescription into a computer database. The order for the medication is then sent securely over a network to your pharmacy, which can fill it immediately.

E-prescribing offers several advantages over today's phone, fax, and paper methods of sendingprescriptions.

First, it can save time, because your pharmacist can find out if you need a prescription filled right away, rather than making you wait until after you drop off your prescription slip.

Second, it can save you money, because a computer system may suggest an alternative or generic drug that is just as good but costs less.

Third, e-prescribing is safer since it may be able to check whether the new drug interferes with any other medications you currently are taking or with any allergies you may have.Also, there is no risk that your pharmacist might misread the messy handwriting on your prescription slip and give you the wrong drug or dose. However, e-prescribing, like any other process where people are involved, is not totally foolproof.

Some larger hospitals already have e-prescribing. Many large drug store chains are getting ready to install systems or already have systems in place with this capability. E-prescribing requires that your doctor and pharmacy be linked electronically. Your doctor may not be able to do this today -- but it is becoming increasingly common. If you want to find out if your doctor uses e-prescribing, ask him or her.   

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.