Ambulatory centers that fully implemented an electronic prescribing system exhibited greater familiarity with health information technology capabilities and had more modest expectations about the benefits of e-prescribing than practices that never installed or only partially implemented the system, according to a study by the Society of General Internal Medicine in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Researchers found that members in practices that implemented e-prescribing anticipated that some challenges would result from the change. In addition, members of such practices viewed the system as a way to improve prescription workflow rather than as a way to make larger-scale changes such as speeding up overall clinical workflow to improve financial returns. On the other hand, practices that did not successfully implement the system discontinued use when the system did not meet their expectations of flawless and speedy workflow.
The researchers recommend that physicians and ambulatory leaders recognize the capabilities and limitations of health IT and plan e-prescribing implementation carefully, making sure that all practice members are prepared for the likely effects the technology will have on prescribing systems and clinical workflow. Furthermore, practices should plan changes to prescription workflow prior to installation to maximize the benefits of the technology (Crosson et al., Journal of General Internal Medicine, April 2008).