Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Vendors of e-prescription software should improve their game to tackle low adoption

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: Vendors of electronic prescribing software need to up their game and improve the design of their systems, if widespread adoption by hospitals and surgeries is to be reached, according to Ovum.

In a new report, the independent technology analyst finds that while e-prescribing systems, which cut costs and inaccuracies associated with paper prescriptions, are bringing fundamental changes to the healthcare sector in the US and Europe, uptake has been low.

The report states that a major cause of resistance to adoption is that healthcare practices, especially those in the private sector, believe that the IT solutions currently available are not sophisticated enough to integrate well with other IT systems.

It also claims that the interfaces of some systems are not user-friendly enough and are viewed as cumbersome by healthcare professionals.

Andrew Brosnan, Ovum analyst and author of the report, commented: “E-prescribing not only delivers cost savings, but also improves patient care and reduces the number of prescription errors. It also streamlines the dispensing process for patients, and provides practitioners with medication histories, reducing fraud.

“However, despite the many benefits, actual use of the solutions remains low, particularly in the US. The high upfront costs and patient confidentiality fears are two of the reasons for this, but a major cause of resistance to the adoption is a pervasive sense that the IT solutions currently available have not as yet achieved the level of sophistication that will be required to mesh seamlessly with other IT progams and systems. This is of great concern to prescribers.”

Conversely, in Australia adoption of e-prescribing solutions began in the 1990 and studies indicate that up to 90% of physicians use e-prescribing solutions. However, data quality in Australia remains an issue due to the lack of standards. To deliver on the full potential of e-prescribing solutions, vendors in Australia should adhere to the framework for e-health interoperability set forth by the National e-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA). NEHTA has published standards catalogs for clinical documents and messaging on their website.

“Physicians also say that cumbersome interfaces and difficulty recalling patient medical records need to be improved as they increase the time it takes to write a prescription, affecting the value they hold over paper-based prescriptions.”

To improve their ability to integrate with other IT systems, the report advises software vendors to ensure their solutions comply with industry standards.

Brosnan added: “Improving the interoperability of software will enhance its perceived value to users, enabling the market as a whole to grow. Until these issues are ironed out, widespread adoption of e-prescribing is unlikely to happen.”

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