Posted on July 30, 2019 by Dr. Rashaad Bhyat
This blog post builds upon a conversation with Dr. Neil Naik during our PrescribeIT® panel webinar on March 28, 2019.
Eighty-five per cent of family physicians now use electronic medical records (EMRs). This has laid the groundwork for a further modernization of how Canadians interact with their primary care provider, including how medications are prescribed and managed.
I recently had the chance to speak to a family physician who has taken this step. He is an early adopter of PrescribeIT®, Canada’s national e-prescribing service.
Dr. Neil Naik is an innovative family physician and medical educator, practicing in the Kitchener-Waterloo region. Our discussion touches upon the journey taken by Dr. Naik and his clinic staff as they learned to use PrescribeIT®, and highlights the patient experience.
Like many health care providers, Dr. Naik recognizes the complexities of our system, and that at least some of our frustrations can be alleviated by using modern, well-designed digital tools such as PrescribeIT®.
He comments upon on the clinical workflow challenges that his clinic frequently had, when working with fax:
“A lot of times we would have fax failures…and this just added time to my workday and my workflow…So I needed a reliable solution that ensured that my prescription went through to the pharmacy.”
Integrating smoothly into both a physician’s EMR and the pharmacy’s pharmacy management system (PMS), PrescribeIT® proved to be that solution.
Change can be difficult, and physician challenges with adapting to digital technologies have been well documented. Physician burnout has been linked to digital technologies in recent years.
However, Dr. Naik describes a reasonable learning curve in adapting to the new service, with minimal change to how he currently prescribes with his EMR. “This was a really easy workflow integration for me.
“The only difference here, though, is instead of hitting the fax button, I hit the e-sign and send [using a send button]”
Most primary care clinics struggle with one particular aspect of communication with pharmacies: the prescription renewal. This process can be quite convoluted, relying heavily on fax, phone and paper-based communication, even in practices that have adopted EMRs. It can be time-consuming and frustrating for all parties involved, including patients.
Dr. Naik describes a positive change in his practice relating to renewals.
“The bigger change was prescription renewals. I think it has become more efficient and a lot faster,” he says. Before PrescribeIT®, his staff spent a lot time preparing prescription renewals for him to review.
Now, Dr. Naik notes, “The request comes directly from the pharmacy, bypasses my front staff, and comes right into my message inbox,” at which point he reviews the request for accuracy, and approves or declines the renewal electronically.
“It automatically pulls information right out of the med list on the patient profile, and auto fills it,” further streamlining the process.
Overall, Dr. Naik’s staff have adapted well to PrescribeIT®. They’re finding that certain features free up their time from having to chase down fax-related issues. “They can spend more time with patients, rather than having to deal with failed prescriptions,” he says.
Patients like the service, too. Dr. Naik recounts hearing from one of his patients, “Oh wow, that was quick!” This patient was so impressed by the service that she returned to Dr. Naik’s office to tell him how it saved her time on a particularly busy day.
During our conversation, Dr. Naik touched upon additional themes including the enhanced security of PrescribeIT® prescriptions, as well as the patient-focused team work supported by the service’s secure electronic messaging feature.
It’s his parting advice for physician colleagues that really resonates: “It’s not a big workflow change for physicians, if anything it adds a layer of services to our patients that we never previously had, and that gives us a lot of potential in moving forward.”
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Dr. Rashaad Bhyat is Clinician Leader, ACCESS Health at Canada Health Infoway. He is a family physician with a special interest in Digital Health. He currently practices in an EMR-enabled family practice in the Greater Toronto Area.