A July 2006 report from National Academics of Science’s Institute of Medicine (IOM), says “Doctors’ sloppy handwritten prescription kills more than 7,000 people annually and also preventable medication mistakes injure more than 1.5 million Americans annually.”
If that’s the case in a developed country, imagine the state of medical prescriptions in India where medical awareness is scarce, especially in rural India.
To address the situation and give a push for electronic medical records, healthcare companies and technology firms have launched a program to enable all doctors in U.S. to write electronic prescription (eRx).
eRx in India though not completely new, still is not adapted and is a rarely used practice. Though many undisputed advantages can be gained by using eRx, i.e. check for potentially harmful drug interactions and ensure that pharmacies provide appropriate medications and doses. “Thousands of people are dying, and we’ve been talking about these problems for ages”, says Mitesh Bohra CEO, savetime.com, who has initiated a project in Pune to digitize all doctor information and create ability for a doctor to write prescriptions on a tablet computer. “Today we have the technology to change the way healthcare is practiced in India, so why aren’t we doing it?”, he asks.
One of the biggest reasons why it is not in practice yet is because of ignorance and hence doctors haven’t invested in this needed technology. When people become aware of the worldwide fact and use technology the same way as in other sectors, healthcare for sure will be revolutionized.
Focusing on the bright side of this technology- that the patients would not have to struggle in understanding their own prescriptions and also they get it in digital format so their medical history can also be stored.
Automation should eliminate many of the errors that occur when a pharmacist misunderstands or misrecords medication names or dosages, conveyed messily on paper or hurriedly over the phone. For example: a spoken request of Celebrex can be mistaken for Celexa, or a notation requesting 150 milligrams of a drug might be read as 1500mg. In electronic systems, drugs and dosages are selected from menus to prevent input errors, and pharmacists don’t need to re-enter information.
Let’s hope that eRx turns out to be the default practice in coming years and efforts made by healthcare IT companies such as Savetime help save thousands of lives caused by misinterpretations made by improperly written prescription.