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E-prescribing is a digital form of communication that helps a prescriber, such as a family doctor or other healthcare provider, to send a prescription order directly to a pharmacy. Ever since the late 1990s, when solid-state technology began to offer the stronger computing paradigms that support electronic record systems, innovators and government agencies have been working on the use of e-prescribing to help modernize health care.
Facilitating e-prescribing is part of the American government's general plan to promote the adoption of electronic medical records, and shift over the general process of medical documentation from paper to digital formats. In 2005, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published an initial set of standards called the “foundation standards” for e-prescribing under part D of Medicare. Since then, providers and others have been making great strides with this advancement.
In e-prescribing, all of the elements of a paper prescription are put into a digital format. This includes the identity of the sender, the dosage and identification of the medication, and the patient's identification.
The use of e-prescribing helps to expedite the distribution of medications in a consumer environment. Pharmacies and health care providers are working together to more fully utilize e-prescribing formats in order to authorize medication pickups by patients. Another aspect of this advancement involves the electronic short message systems that a pharmacy can use to notify a patient that a prescription has been filled and is available for pickup.