A study funded by AHRQ and published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Transmitting and processing electronic prescriptions: Experiences of physician practices and pharmacies, identifies both the benefits and challenges with electronic prescribing (eRx) practices. Authors believe that, as more physicians convert to electronic health record (EHR) systems due to federal incentives, challenges would become more pressing. Yet collaboration among a group of private and public stakeholders could help in addressing those issues.

E-prescribing benefits include a reduced risk of medication error caused by illegible handwriting, time and cost savings, safer patient care, and increased efficiencies.

The study also identified the following challenges or areas for improvement:

  • E-prescribing features were used less often for renewal requests from pharmacies to physicians.
  • Physician practices either did not establish e-prescribing systems to receive electronic renewals or received them infrequently 33 percent of the time.
  • Even after a physician responded electronically, many pharmacies still sent renewal requests electronically and duplicated the request by phone or fax delivery.
  • Problems occurred for physician practices sending new and renewal electronic prescriptions to mail-order pharmacies.
  • Pharmacies cited the need for some manual prescription information edits.

To read or download the full report, click here  (PDF).