Publisher's Blog: E-prescribing—pharmacy pays to play

September 13, 2007


November 7, 2007

Thanks to all of you who took the time to respond to my e-prescribingblog.

It is clear from your responses that you definitely feel that pharmacyshould not, and cannot, afford to bear the burden of the expense of this technology.

I have to tell you that I was surprised to hear from many of you about mistakesM.D.s have made using this technology. This alarms me even more in that one ofthe primary advantages of this technology is that it should be a more accurateand reliable means of communicating the prescriber's choice of medication(s) tothe pharmacy.

If you have a topic that you would like your colleagues to respondto, please let me know…I can be reached at jlaborsky@advanstar.com.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my next topic: Pharmacists' influenceon Rx drug sales, which are likely to double by 2012, while the pharma industrycontinues to ignore them.

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Is this yet another situation where pharmacists unwillingly will bear the expense of this very much needed technology?

It is my understanding that there is a major multiorganizational initiative which includes both the NACDS, NCPA, and others whose goal is to convert all prescribing to an electronic-based platform by the end of 2010…With 2007 coming to a close, it seems that it will be a tough task to complete in three years.

So why is it that with dispensing costs running in the range of $10 to 14 per Rx and plan-sponsored dispensing fees as low as $4 that pharmacy should be required to absorb fees (some providers require a subscription fee + transaction fee for each Rx) associated with this technology initiative?

If you ask the e-prescribing suppliers what are the advantages to e-prescribing, here are some of the benefits they list:

  • improved efficiency. (But with a cost to dispensing disparity as it exists today you cannot make up that disparity by increasing your volume with this technology.)

  • you can regain control of your business and profession…Does this really need a comment or should we just allow for the laughter to die down?

  • increased safety…Amen, they make a good point here…No more guessing, no more holding the Rx sideways above a light to decipher the M.D.'s writing

  • less time consumed with getting the patient the formulary-approved drugs and less time in getting renewals that come over the electronic platform…I agree with the first point but not the second-- patients will call you with the refill request, not the M.D.

  • more time to devote to patient care and running your business…You will have more time, but not for patients and your business, but more time to fill more prescriptions for less money…

I look forward to your comments and insights on how you feel e-prescribing will impact you and your colleagues.