Does e-Prescribing cut down on “therapeutic misadventures”?

Possibly, according to Malorye Allison at the World Health Care Blog:

Yes, going paperless is painful, and yes it can be expensive too, but just don’t say that the upside has been way overblown. The eRx Collaborative in Massachusetts has hopefully put that fear to rest. This bold effort was launched in 2003 to “jumpstart” e-prescribing in the state, and it’s raking in some impressive numbers. In late August, the group announced that Collaborative prescribers transmitted 15.6 million prescriptions over the last 4.5 years. Approximately 50,000 of those prescriptions, or 2.3% were changed due to drug safety alerts, a key feature of the system.

That probably doesn’t translate to 50,000 lives saved, or anything nearly that dramatic, but given the number of medication misshaps that harm Americans each year (IOM estimates that at about 1.5 million) it’s clearly a good thing.

This sounds like a great idea provided that the technology is ready for prime time: i.e. user-friendly enough for the non-tech-geek physician, as well as relatively inexpensive.  Mandating the physician community to adopt technology that is not yet mature could do more harm than good.  Still, this sounds very promising.

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