FRAMINGHAM (09/25/2003) - A partnership between the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) and Quilogy Inc., a provider of emerging technology solutions, has yielded an electronic prescription pad for physicians. The software will be rolled out in the coming months.
Development was made possible through a US$25,000 grant awarded to both organizations from Microsoft Corp. earlier this year.
The pad was designed to provide MMS physicians with a free tool to enter patient prescription information and augment safety by being able to write and preview prescriptions on the pad before being filled. (Since the pad is part of a partnership between the MMS and Quilogy, it will be made available only to MMS physicians.)
Patient safety is a major benefit, especially in light of an Institute of Medicine study that said 44,000 to 98,000 patient deaths occur yearly due to misread prescriptions and fatal medication interactions.
"Writing prescriptions can often be complex, and this (pad) will provide a way for physicians to communicate directly with pharmacies to ensure all prescription information is correct and current," said MMS president Dr. Thomas Sullivan.
Along with patient safety improvements, the pad will increase efficiency by enabling physicians and staff members to rapidly perform several prescription-related functions.
"With the pad, nurses and administrative staffers can enter prescription renewals and tee-up prescriptions for physicians (to sign off). Then they are directed to a fax queue (to be sent to a pharmacy)," said Alex Paytuvi, managing consultant for Quilogy. "Physicians can review the information in the queue to accept and/or deny prescription information, look up patient history, and modify the prescription before it is sent to the pharmacy. Changes can be made to these prescriptions as needed."
A physician can use the software to review an active medications list for a specific patient. When the prescription is written, the physician accesses a lookup form with outgoing prescription order information, including patient and physician names and contact information, drug prescribed, instructions, and DEA number (for prescribed narcotics). A digital-ink image of the physician's signature is used to verify all prescription information. Signatures of MMS physicians using the pad are cross-referenced with the MMS database to verify that the physician is in good standing.
When the approval process is complete, a Word document is created and faxed to a pharmacy via a Web service. This document contains all relevant prescription information. While sounding like a complex series of steps, it can routinely happen in seconds, depending on how long the physician reviews the patient information.
Physicians can access the pad by downloading it from the MMS Web site to a tablet, notebook, or desktop PC. The pad runs on Windows XP-based platforms and works with Office System 11 and Microsoft Access (to store patient information).
"So far, we like what we have with this," Sullivan said. "We are planning on increasing front- and back-end connectivity with health plans and pharmacies. Adding comprehensive Web services for medication lists and machine-to-machine connectivity are also part of taking the next step."
Sullivan stated he would like this initiative to be a prototype for medical organizations throughout the country, when the pad is more fully functional. "Developing a system to facilitate prescriptions is very complicated, and having more functionality is a major part of our plan," he said.