The Senate May Prescribe Technology to Doctors

Thanks to Ann Higgins for sending me the article from the Washington Post on e-prescriptions (E-Prescription Firm Receives a Political Boost). It said,

A bipartisan group of four senators introduced a bill that would provide financial bonuses to doctors under Medicare, the public health insurance program, who buy and use e-prescribing technology. It would also penalize doctors who don’t use the technology by 2011.

From a patient’s perspective, electronic prescriptions improve drug safety, reduce cost and are more convenient. As the article points out,

According to the Institute of Medicine, 7,000 patients die and an additional 1.5 million are injured each year by medication errors, including those resulting from bad handwriting and problematic communication among doctors and pharmacies.

The doctors however are not as quick to jump on this great idea. First the software required can cost up to $25,000. Second, the doctors do not necessarily look at a patient’s list of medications – they view that as the role of the pharmacist. This process could put more of an onus on the doctors. (I don’t entirely get this since I don’t think this process necessarily removes the pharmacist. I like the idea of having a pharmacist double check. I just also like the idea of the pharmacist not having to guess what the previously hand-written prescription said!)

The DEA requires paper prescriptions for controlled substances. Apparently that’s an issue too. (Although it seems to me that they could print out the electronic prescriptions if they really needed paper. Or maybe someone could take a look at the larger issue of thinking paper is more secure than electronic.)

Not surprisingly I’m an advocate for electronic prescriptions – but as much as I love technology, I really like the idea from a parent’s perspective. Last week in Dublin we had to deal with a sick 3 year old. Without going into the gruesome details, I knew what she had. I knew if we called the doctors in Minnesota, they’d call in the prescription for us without us going in. But we were in Dublin and she needed the medicine now.

How nice would it have been to have a magic database where the doctor in Ireland could see the medical history? And how nice would it be for our visits to the doctors here to be included in my daughters’ permanent records. Everyone talks about the global economy and to come degree we’re living it but the technology is still not being used to support global citizens.

This entry was posted in Broadband Applications, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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