E-Prescription Software Development: Benefits, Challenges, and Our Expertise
31 Mar 2022
Since its creation in the early 2000s, e-prescription software, or eRx, has essentially changed the interaction between doctors, patients, and pharmacies. Throughout its development over the last two decades, eRx software has evolved introducing better flexibility, more innovative features, and intuitive user experience. However, things are not as smooth as they seem at first sight.
Nowadays, there is a wide range of e-prescribing applications on the market, but not all of them do their job in terms of simplifying the doctor-patient-pharmacy communication. A large number of these applications are poorly developed, unreliable in terms of security measures, prone to crashes, and perform slowly in general. Using these solutions can cause more harm in the long run than you can expect.
When dealing with information that is as sensitive as prescriptions, it’s essential to know how to choose the eRx application.
Why Do We Need E-Prescribing Solutions?
E-prescription software has been developed to eliminate the number of medication errors caused by human factor. Every year thousands of people die due to medical errors. Can these deaths be prevented? Absolutely. And e-prescription software already contributes to that. However, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
First of all, let’s take a look at the main reasons behind medication errors:
- Medicine is given to the wrong patient
- Incorrect administration of medication dosage by clinicians
- Drug-drug, drug-herb, or drug-food interactions
- Prescriptions with illegible handwriting
These errors happen pretty much at every stage of the medication journey which is comprised of:
Many of these errors can be avoided if you use the right e-prescription software.
What is exactly eRx used for though?
E-prescription software is used by medical specialists for electronic filing and submission of prescriptions to pharmacies. These solutions not only help to avoid the above-listed errors, they save time, money, paper, and lives.
One of the main reasons for the need for e-prescribing software in hospitals is the elimination of handwritten prescriptions whenever possible. Illegible handwriting is a major cause of adverse drug events that can eventually result in patient deaths.
According to a study carried out by the Institute of Medicine (ironically named “To Err is Human”), the US alone reports around 44,000 preventable patient deaths annually, 7,000 of which happen due to illegible prescriptions.
This is why e-prescription software is simply a must-have in the modern world. The challenge is choosing the app that meets all the required healthcare standards and internationally accepted regulations.
What Are the Benefits of E-Prescription Software?
E-prescription software comes with numerous benefits and features that make people’s lives easier and more convenient.
Improved Tracking of Patient’s Prescription History
Clinicians and prescribers can see patients’ history of allergies, drug interactions, duplicate therapies, and other issues in just a few clicks. In case of any contraindications with the prescription, the app will notify the parties through alerts.
Elimination of Spelling Errors and Illegible Handwriting
Illegible handwriting has been known to cause not only prescription errors that resulted in minor health problems, but also patient deaths. There are many drugs that have similar spelling or sound similar, which is a huge contributing factor to these fatal errors. eRx apps can help eliminate these mistakes.
Simplified Prescription Process for Controlled Substances
The prescription of such controlled substances as opioids, stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens is a highly responsible and complex task. However, with e-prescribing, even this can be significantly simplified, thus increasing workflow efficiency for prescribers and making things more convenient for patients. Most importantly, you can rest assured that you won’t be compromising security or causing miscellaneous medical errors.
Strict Monitoring of Controlled Substance Prescriptions
E-prescribing can actually decrease the common threats associated with controlled substance prescriptions, as it enables a faster and easier tracking of a patient's prescription history. Thus, it helps avoid issues like over-prescribing or doctor shopping.
Faster Medication History Reconciliation
Patients’ medication history is monitored not only in case of controlled substance prescriptions. It’s a mandatory process that doctors carry out when examining a patient’s health and considering new drug prescriptions in general. E-prescription software allows prescribers to examine patients’ medication history in a matter of seconds, thus saving considerable time and effort.
Better Tracking of Prescription Filling
With handwritten prescriptions, it’s hard for healthcare providers to track whether the prescription dispensing has been completed. E-prescribing solves this problem. It allows prescribers to track the medicine filling process and also assists patients in further medication management. Additionally, physicians can also immediately detect drug abuse cases (e.g., if a patient gets more prescription fillings for controlled substances than recommended).
No More Lost Prescriptions
Paper prescriptions get lost easily. Patients have to be extra careful with them. When lost, they have to be rewritten by prescribers which takes up extra time. With eRx software, prescriptions are sent directly to the pharmacy, so there’s no losing them in the process.
Faster Prescription Refill
It takes healthcare providers quite a lot of time to respond to prescription refill requests. E-prescribing speeds up this process too. It eases the reviewing, authorization, and prescription refill sending process in general.
Easier Prescription Verification for Pharmacy Employees
Considering that some medications have different forms, doses, and strengths, pharmacy employees often have to call prescribers to verify these and other factors. E-prescription software allows prescribers to fill out all the important information needed for pharmacies to immediately verify prescriptions.
Trouble-Free Prescription of Insurance-Covered Medications
A large number of eRx software solutions essentially ease the process of prescribing drugs that are covered by insurance. They allow healthcare providers to choose the types of drugs which can be potentially covered by the patient’s insurance. Besides, prescribing patients medicine they can actually afford highly increases the chance of them sticking to the required medication therapy.
Decrease of Adverse Drug Events
As eRx software solves the problem of prescription legibility, it results in the decrease of adverse drug events or ADEs. This, in turn, reduces the number of readmissions, saving time and money for patients.
COVID-19 once again highlighted the importance of using quality e-prescription software. Since the start of the pandemic, people have been using more non-confirmed drugs than before which causes a much higher number of ADEs.
What Makes High-Quality eRx Software?
To be able to tell good e-prescription solutions from low-quality ones, you need to focus on the following features:
E-prescribing software deals with sensitive patient data. Such information as medication/treatment history, chats between pharmacists and doctors, pharmacists and patients, as well as user geolocations, is modified, processed, and stored in the eRx system. Hence, it’s important to ensure that the e-prescribing software you use or maybe want to develop complies with the patient health information laws in your area.
DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) Compliance
Complying with DEA regulations is important if the software is to allow electronic prescribing of controlled substances. The following are DEA security regulations:
- Prescriber identity check and verification
- Two-factor authentication
- Logical access control
- Direct reporting to the DEA in case any illegal activity happens in regard to the controlled substances.
The safer your eRx software solution, the more effective its results.
Integration with Clinical Decision Support Systems or CDSSs
CDSSs ensure a higher safety and better treatment solutions for the patients. They analyze various pieces of health information and form useful clinical advice, which, combined with doctors’ knowledge, accounts for better patient treatment decisions.
CDSSs keep healthcare providers informed about drug interactions and allergies to help them make more precise prescriptions for their patients.
Integration with Electronic Health Record (EHR) Systems
This integration will help physicians easily find patient medical data and treatment history before giving prescriptions. Having the possibility to instantly check a patient’s age, weight, allergies, and diagnoses, will prevent wrong or duplicate drug prescriptions.
Additionally, the in-app messaging between pharmacists, patients, and doctors will ensure all the patient health-related data is clarified and further monitoring is safely executed.
Pharmacy Management System Integrations
The integration between eRx software and pharmacy management systems can save time for both doctors and pharmacists. It will allow healthcare professionals to check the costs and availability of prescribed medications in pharmacies, as well as monitor the medication adherence throughout the whole treatment process.
Other than the above-mentioned factors, the app should also have all the necessary features of high-quality software, such as:
- Ease of use and easy on the eye
- Fast loading
- High-quality image resolution
- User feedback
VOLO Helps Create a Cutting-Edge eRx Software Solution for Canadian Patients
With extensive experience in mobile app development, VOLO strives to work on projects that will also have a long-lasting positive impact on human life, be it convenience-wise or health-wise. In this case, e-prescription software covers both aspects, making people’s lives more convenient and ensuring a safer healthcare system.
When one of our clients approached our team with the idea to build an app that would ease the overall prescription dispensing process, we saw it as an interesting challenge and an important mission.
Before diving into the project description, let’s have a look at the complex process of prescription filling and the stages it is made up of:
- Input and initial check during which the pharmacy gathers the required patient data.
- Therapeutic check to see if the prescription is exactly what the patient needs.
- Preparation which involves choosing the right medicine and applying the necessary packaging and labels.
- Technical check to ensure the accuracy of prescription dispensing.
- Supply of the medicine to the patient and quick counseling (if a refill is needed, an assessment should be carried out to check the drug efficiency).
As you can see, prescription dispensing can be quite a hassle, especially for patients with serious issues. Not to mention that long commutes are not that safe in the post-COVID world.
With this process in mind, our partner came up with the idea of a prescription filling mobile app, and entrusted its development to VOLO.
The app was to simplify the whole prescription dispensing process by allowing the patients to send their prescriptions to their preferred pharmacy in advance. This way, the pharmacists would carry out the whole filling process beforehand and the patients would be able to take the medication right after getting to the pharmacy.
A human-centered, simple-to-use, responsive app that ensures a seamless experience for its users. The app, which is both iOS- and Android-compatible, enables patients to receive their medication in just a few quick steps:
- Taking a picture of the prescription within the app
- Sending the picture to the pharmacy of their choice
- Picking up the medication on arrival
Additionally, there are in-app messaging, texting, or calling options which pharmacists and patients can use in case of questions.
The services that our team provided were
- Logo design and branding
- Landing page development
- Mobile app development
- Quality assurance
The Challenges We Faced
It goes without saying that no project development goes without difficulties and challenges. It's only natural for a long-term collaboration. However, all of these can be solved through teamwork, communication, and timely discussion, which were the key factors behind the successful collaboration between our client and VOLO.
To help you navigate through similar challenges in the future, here are some hurdles that we had to overcome.
Keep in mind that mobile app development does not necessarily mean knowing every single feature of the app in advance. Of course, initial planning and defining the goals is important, but openness to changes and new feature requests will ensure you develop an actually useful and human-centered application.
For example, in our case, there was no initial requirement of building in extra payment method options during the planning period. However, as you develop the app, you or the client notice that certain features essential to the app are missing and without them the solution will not be complete. This is why we built the extra payment method functionality during our e-prescription software development process, as per the client’s request.
Different Time Zones
Our office is in Armenia, while our client is based in Canada. As a result, there were minor communication issues because of the time zone difference. However, such issues don’t pose a real issue, if your team is truly agile. Regardless of the part of the world you and your partners are in, it’s possible to find a time of day which is convenient for both sides.
When the client trusts that the team is on task and committed to delivering quality work, it’s okay to have delayed meetings every now and then, which we also experienced in the above described case.
Our client was short of time and needed their project to be executed professionally yet within tight deadlines. For this, they needed an outsourcer with previous experience in e-prescription software development.
Having developed healthcare apps in the past, we were open to accepting new challenges in the industry. Within only three months, our team was able to deliver a high-quality prescription filling app, while adapting to ongoing changes by the client, thereby ensuring flexibility throughout the entire e-prescription software development process.
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