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Paper vs. Electronic: 72% of Americans Want Physicians to Use Mobile E-Prescribing Tools

What We Should Know:

– A new e-prescription survey of 1,004 U.S. consumers, ages 18 and over conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of DrFirst in December 2020 shows that despite the industry’s claim of widespread adoption of e-prescribing (EPCS), many doctors continue to write paper prescriptions. The survey found that 53% of Americans say some of their prescriptions are still sent to the pharmacy by phone, fax, or paper.

– They also often wait days for even urgently needed medications, as the survey revealed 72% of Americans say their doctors still provide paper prescriptions for controlled substances. The survey also reveals that nearly three-quarters (72%) of Americans want their doctor to use a mobile e-prescribing tool when away from the office.

Waiting Is the Hardest Part

Nearly 4 in 10 (39%) Americans have had to wait at least overnight or the weekend for their doctor to get back into the office to send a prescription to the pharmacy, according to the survey. More than half of the patients were waiting for prescriptions for controlled substances, such as Percocet, Adderall, or Xanax.

“When a post-op or cancer patient is in pain on a weekend, or a sickle cell patient needs more medication during a crisis, waiting isn’t an option, and these patients often end up in the emergency department unnecessarily,” said Colin Banas, M.D., chief medical officer for DrFirst.

Scrapping the Paper

Despite the industry’s claim of widespread adoption of e-prescribing, nearly three-fourths (72%) of Americans surveyed say their doctors still provide paper prescriptions for controlled substances. Until 2010, when DrFirst developed the technology for electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS), all prescriptions for controlled substances were required to be written on paper. Since that innovation, EPCS is now mandated by many states and will be required by the federal government in 2022, helping prevent opioid abuse, avoid prescription fraud, improve prescribing safety, efficiency, and patient satisfaction. Despite these pending mandates, many providers continue to give patients paper prescriptions.

“At this point, there is simply no reason for physicians to continue keeping spare prescription pads around the office, and especially not using paper prescriptions for controlled substances,” said Banas. He noted that doctors might be continuing to do so if their current system doesn’t include EPCS functionality or if they don’t have convenient access to their practice’s system when they are away from the office. “That’s why a mobile app like iPrescribe can make such a difference for patients. It’s a convenient, safer, and more secure option that doctors can use wherever they are.”

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