Muskoka Region article published October 2, 2017. Article in full pasted below.
Alison Brownlee, Huntsville Forester
MUSKOKA — Muskoka has kick-started the end of the paper-based medical prescription era across Canada.
Dr. David Mathies and Dr. Caroline Correia, who are Algonquin Family Health Team members, and Bill Coon, owner and pharmacist at Muskoka Medical Centre Pharmacy, were the first physician-pharmacist team to electronically send and receive a patient medicine e-prescription through a soon-to-be national software system called PrescribeIT.
“In the short term for us, I think the benefits are all patient care,” Coon told muskokaregion.com.
Canada Health Infoway launched the physician-designed and federally funded e-prescribing initiative in Huntsville in August. Rollout to other provinces and territories will start in 2018.
The software allows for digital transfers of prescriptions between the physician and pharmacist electronic patient medical record systems — eliminating paper prescriptions and print outs while enabling direct messaging between pharmacists and physicians.
“The big thing for us is being able to real-time send a question back to the doctor immediately,” said Coon. “And you get and answer right away through the system without transferring it through a secretary and dispensary assistant.”
The software, he said, would give pharmacists more access to patient information, resulting in more integrated patient care, especially since patient prescriptions can come not only from family doctors, but also specialists and emergency rooms, as examples.
Dr. Correia had applied to host the software launch, following a general call for applications, while she was on maternity leave, but as the launch was scheduled earlier than expected, her colleague Dr. David Mathies stepped in to assist.
“They were looking for a small community where the physicians and pharmacists worked well together,” said Dr. Mathies. “And where they were using the electronic medical records that coincided with their first steps.”
Plus, he said, the office and the pharmacy were steps away from each other in the same building, which made manually double-checking the digital information easier.
He said the e-prescribing system was more efficient because it offered direct communication between doctors and pharmacists without involving front office staff in transferring calls or handling paper.
And, he said, the prescription information, including drug and dose, got mapped immediately into his electronic medical record, as well as the pharmacist’s, for the patient.
“The other side benefits? We can hopefully manage opiate prescriptions better (and) we can manage compliance with prescriptions better,” he said.
Dr. Mathies added, though, the new software cannot be used for every patient as not all physicians and pharmacies have access to it yet.
“It’s still in a limited production run,” he said.
Tania Ensor, a director with Canada Health Infoway, said the independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government had a health-care mandate that included protecting patient data from commercial use and preventing brand-influenced prescribing and dispensing.
E-prescriptions, said Ensor, sidestep handwritten and autofax prescription loss, transcription error and miscommunication.
“It’s actually a much safer system for patients, as well as easier for doctors and pharmacists,” she said.
The new secure system would also cut down on fraud and misuse caused by stolen prescription pads or duplicated prescriptions, she noted.
“And that is safer for everybody,” she said. “(And) because (physicians and pharmacists) are getting rid of wasteful time — they’re not spending time on faxes and phone calls and rekeying in information — they have more time for patient care.”