Scripps Clinic Adopts Electronic Prescribing

Scripps Clinic is taking the first step toward the implementation of a fully functioning Electronic Health Record (EHR), introducing electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) at all of its locations in San Diego.

“We adopted e-prescribing to make patient care safer and more efficient,” said Gary Williams, M.D., Ph.D., vice president of medicine services at Scripps Clinic. “This represents a step in a series of efforts to improve the quality of our patient care through new technology.”

E-prescribing eliminates the paper-based prescription system, allowing clinicians to generate, authorize and transmit prescriptions to participating pharmacies and other dispensers. The system is designed to reduce medication errors – the most common medical mistakes in America according to the Institute of Medicine. It can alert prescribers to potential drug allergies and interactions, and reduce the potential for errors related to illegible handwriting.

“A physician’s penmanship is no longer a factor we have to consider with this new system,” said Dr. Williams. “E-prescribing assures legibility. That improves safety and reduces the number of callbacks between pharmacies and doctors’ offices.”

Saving time and money

E-prescribing is more efficient for the health care provider – and the consumer. From the point-of-care, a prescription is sent directly to the dispenser, so nothing needs to be dropped off at the drug store. Plus, refill requests can be submitted directly from the pharmacy and approved by the physician office electronically. Calls or faxes to and from the doctor’s office are no longer necessary.

Because the Scripps Clinic system is synched-up with the databases of participating pharmacies, prescribers have instant access to the formularies. They can see the lists of approved prescription drugs and corresponding co-payments for each patient’s insurance plan, and choose less costly medications.

Embracing the electronic age

By the end of June 2009, e-prescribing will be available at all in the greater San Diego area. Between now and then, more than 2,000 physicians and staff supporting clinical activities are being trained in the use of the e-prescribing system.

“This is a step in the right direction for our medical group and the patients who put their care in our hands,” said Dr. Williams.

E-prescribing is only the beginning. A fully functioning EHR will be implemented at Scripps Clinic in stages – transforming record keeping for the multi-specialty health care provider and dramatically changing the way it uses health information to improve, standardize and report the quality of care it delivers.

As the increasingly competitive health care market relies on quality reports and evidence of efficiency, Dr. Williams asserts that integrated health care delivery systems like Scripps Clinic have potential advantages in standardizing the quality of medical care and the efficiency with which it is delivered.

“Quality and efficiency are the necessary attributes of successful organizations, particularly as we move to expand health care coverage to more and more Americans," he said. "As Scripps Clinic expands in size and geographic coverage, the EHR makes truly integrated health care possible by providing a complete and continuously updated patient medical record that is accessible across multiple sites at all times by both primary and specialty physicians.”