Posted on January 6, 2021 by Dr. Rashaad Bhyat
When you’re feeling unwell, the last thing you want is to venture out on multiple errands. As we continue to stay home and implement physical distancing measures, I’m reminded of a story a patient recently related to me.
Last winter, in less turbulent, pre-pandemic times, she was prescribed medication for a stubborn bout of illness. After finishing her appointment at a walk-in clinic — which required travel to and from the clinic, as well as time spent in the waiting room — she proceeded to the pharmacy to have it filled.
However, the pharmacist had a request for clarification. Unable to reach the prescriber via fax or telephone, they suggested she return to the clinic. After another stint in the waiting room, she received a new prescription…and made one more trip to the pharmacy before returning home, medication in hand.
Between her home, the walk-in clinic and the pharmacy, this patient made five trips for a single prescription. An inconvenience at the best of times, this back-and-forth has broader implications for patients and health outcomes. Extra travel is hardly conducive to rest and recovery, and for those who may be contagious, there is a heightened risk of disease transmission.
“Imagine if this had happened during COVID-19,” the patient told me. “I wouldn’t have wanted to travel that much, especially if I didn’t have to.”
It’s an important point. Virtual care tools have helped reduce transmission of COVID-19 by keeping patients out of crowded waiting rooms, but the same principle applies to other viruses in non-pandemic times.
As a form of virtual care, e-prescribing has the potential to make a big difference in situations like the one this patient describes. An e-prescribing service like PrescribeIT® sends prescription data directly from the prescriber’s electronic medical record (EMR) to the pharmacy management system (PMS) — which means that patients don’t need to carry paper prescriptions between their provider and pharmacist. Moreover, integrated clinical communications, a form of secure messaging, allows prescribers and pharmacists to seamlessly message each other, eliminating the need for faxes, phone calls — or additional in-person encounters.
While pharmacists and prescribers see the impacts of PrescribeIT® directly, patients benefit as well: by saving time, reducing travel and protecting their health. Through better health outcomes and an improved patient experience, e-prescribing and virtual care can support all parts of a patient’s health journey: through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
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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.