e-Prescribing comes to New York

On March 27, 2016 New York became the second state to require electronic prescriptions. And it is the first to back that requirement with serious penalties. So, how is it going?

Well, there isn’t much news. And, that’s good news. Considering that there are at least 74,000 physicians in New York, and they write almost 21 million prescriptions each month, even problems that affect even a fairly small percentage of doctors or prescriptions would create a large problem.

Considering that there are at least 74,000 physicians in New York, and they write almost 21 million prescriptions each month, even problems that affect even a fairly small percentage of doctors or prescriptions would create a large problem.

On the other hand, at least 13,000 doctors had waivers from these requirements. These are one year waivers, though, and many of them have been issued to organizations that have embraced e-prescribing and have made significant process in rolling this out organization-wide. So, by this time next year, doctors that cannot do electronic prescription should be extremely rare.

Like most of the best technologies, e-prescribing accomplishes multiple things. The original mandate was passed as a means to help control the prescribing and misuse of opioid medications. However, in the process it accomplishes some other things as well.

A really important thing it does is that it reduces medication errors due to illegible or hard to read prescription. We think of the stereotypical bad doctor’s handwriting as something of a joke. However, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, messy writing is a common cause of medications errors – errors that are so common and so severe that at least one person a day dies, and 1.3 million people are injured every year. That’s not a joke. Anything that reduces that toll is a good thing.

So, while it’s not completely clear whether e-prescribing will really help curb opioid deaths or even opioid use, it is clear that it should help reduce damage caused by prescription errors. That’s a win all on its own.

About the author