Pharmacists weigh the benefits of eRx Script Exchange

Fred NXT story, pharmacist in dispensary

eRx Script Exchange today launched the results of its 2015 Pharmacy eHealth Survey identifying the business impact of ETP (electronic transfer of prescriptions) on community pharmacy since eRx’s launch in 2009.

A total of 740 pharmacies, representing 14% of Australia’s community pharmacy sector, took part in the survey, which ran in the first half of this year.

The survey honed in on four key areas of dispensing and workflow, patient outcomes, challenges and priorities, and innovations for the future.

Of the pharmacies that took part, 75% said that they find eRx valuable or extremely valuable, highlighting these key areas of benefit:

  • 89% said that outside repeats and new patients are now easier;
  • 87% said that dispensing is now faster and more accurate; and
  • 46% said that dispensing efficiency was the major motivation for using eRx, followed by patient safety.

Pharmacies also identified four distinct ETP priorities needed to further advance health and safety outcomes for Australian patients over the short and longer term.

The most immediate priority – identified by 65% of community pharmacies – is connecting more local doctors into ETP so that the benefits of improved and more accurate dispensing can be shared more widely.

The fulfillment of a complete medications history was seen as one of the most promising areas of future value. Community pharmacy also identified a significant role for ETP in real-time prescription checks and the monitoring of controlled drugs.

Paperless prescriptions were also a significant focus of attention, with:

  • 62% of community pharmacies saying that paper optional prescriptions could help prevent prescription fraud and misadventure;
  • 55% identifying paperless prescriptions as an obvious next step for the industry; and
  • 34% saying that the paper document is one of the biggest challenges currently facing ETP.

When asked what concerns them most about moving to paper-optional prescriptions, the majority of respondents said:

  • 81% – technical issues – the system needs to work without issues every time; and
  • 60% – the potential for channeling scripts to particular pharmacies.

According to Paul Naismith, pharmacist and CEO of Fred IT, the survey is an important step in continuing to advance eHealth in pharmacy.

“The transition into the 6th Community Pharmacy Agreement provided an important opportunity to review pharmacy’s eHealth progress to date,” says Naismith.

“The results painted a very clear picture of the value of ETP to dispensing and workflow.

“They also told us that community pharmacy sees a much stronger role for ETP in managing some of the challenges of the health care system, particularly areas such as managing risk around scheduled medicines, fraud and misadventure.

“We remain extremely committed to continuing to advance eHealth so that the benefits of real-time medications histories, better medicines management and real-time communication become realities for health professionals.

“In the short term, this means focusing on connecting more doctors in local communities.

“However, as a result of the survey, we also have a very clear road map of the tangible steps for delivering greater eHealth benefits to health professionals and patients.”

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