If leaving the doctor’s office with a paper prescription feels outdated to you, you’re not alone. In a time where almost everything can be completed from the palm of our hand with password protected smartphones, why are we carrying such sensitive and personal medical information on flimsy pieces of paper that can easily be lost or damaged?
There is no shortage of ways that Canadians lose their paper prescriptions — whether the prescription goes missing, or is simply misplaced, it’s estimated that more than four million Canadians lost or damaged their paper prescriptions last year.
Unfortunately, the result is more than a minor inconvenience. Nearly 1.7 million people went back to their doctor’s office to get a replacement, according to a recent study conducted by Nielsen for Canada Health Infoway. The consequence? More than $35 million lost in productivity, travel and other associated costs.
What’s even more troublesome is that an additional 700,000 Canadians opted to go without the medication prescribed to them. This can lead to serious health consequences, more doctor visits, or even hospitalization.
Moving away from a paper-and-fax prescribing system to a digital one not only offers Canadians convenience but can also improve safety for the patient. For example, when patients are taking multiple medications or seeing more than one prescriber, or if patient records aren’t readily available, they can be at risk of health care providers unknowingly prescribing incompatible medications. A digital e-prescribing system allows a pharmacist concerned about a patient’s combined prescriptions or dosage to quickly message the prescriber to help prevent a dangerous or even tragic outcome.
Committed to modernizing this process, Canada Health Infoway has launched PrescribeIT, a national electronic prescribing service that will transition the prescribing process from one that is heavily reliant on paper and faxed prescriptions to one that is fully electronic. Better yet, PrescribeIT also safeguards patient health data from commercial use and is available to health care professionals across the country.
The movement towards a more digital health system is progressing full-speed ahead. The benefits to Canadians and health care providers is unquestionable. It’s no different in prescribing – so let’s make paper prescriptions a thing of the past and embrace e-prescribing.
Dr. Rashaad Bhyat, Clinician Leader, Canada Health Infoway