Insights
Safer, faster, greener: why digital prescribing is the new gold standard in healthcare

Katie Beaton

Head of Product

March 2, 2023
7 minute read

In every domain of our lives, paper documents and processes are being replaced by digital alternatives. And, in parallel with paper’s demise, e-signatures have replaced the wet signature as the go-to option for speed and convenience. This has been a rapid but widespread evolution spanning everything from rental agreements to job contracts. Most people can hardly remember the last time they signed anything with a pen.

This is a trend which has had a huge impact in healthcare. In the past, every prescription was printed off on paper, signed by the doctor and hand-delivered to a pharmacy where the patient would go to pay for and collect the item. Now, thanks to advances in digital pharmacy infrastructure, prescriptions can be electronically generated and digitally signed by the doctor in seconds, then securely sent straight to a pharmacy of the patient’s choosing. This has been particularly advantageous for the growing number of vertically-integrated micro healthcare providers (VIMPROs) who operate entirely remotely.  

The widespread digitisation of the prescription process has had a transformative impact on clinical workloads and patient safety. And, as more healthcare providers consider opportunities to relieve pressure on their staff and improve organisational efficiency, we are likely to see a significant rise in the numbers of clinicians and patients benefiting from the adoption of digital prescribing over the coming year. Let’s look at the factors driving this adoption.    

Digital prescribing saves time and reduces workload

When healthcare providers eliminate paper-based prescriptions, doctors and their admin teams no longer need to spend hours filling in, printing and manually signing numerous prescription slips. Instead, prescriptions can be generated automatically from a patient management system. If a prescription needs to be amended or renewed, it can be done in seconds on an online system. Pharmacists do not need to spend time collecting and sorting through paper slips, and do not have to struggle to read illegible handwriting! This much-needed time is handed back to healthcare teams and pharmacists, and patients are given access to their essential medications without delay.  

Digital prescribing is safer  

When e-signing and digital prescribing first came into use, concerns were raised about the elimination of the wet signature. This apprehension delayed adoption in some cases. However, it’s now widely accepted that digital prescriptions are safer than their handwritten counterparts in a number of ways. Firstly, digital prescribing systems offer improved tracking and reporting capabilities. Healthcare providers can track prescription history and generate prescribing reports. Secondly, the technology allows for better communication between healthcare providers, pharmacies, and patients, improving coordination and continuity of care.

Because electronic prescriptions are encrypted and transmitted securely, they help reduce the risk of prescription fraud and unauthorised access to patient data. The removal of the paper slip also removes the chance for patients to accidentally collect or be given the wrong prescription when they collect it from their GP - an event that causes significant confusion, potential harm to patients, and puts the GP practice at risk of penalisation.  

Digital prescribing is greener

Finally, transitioning to digital prescribing helps healthcare providers and patients to reduce their impact on the environment. This is not just because less paper is used - it is also because patients and pharmacists need no longer travel to clinics to pick up & drop off prescription slips. Instead, patients can enjoy convenient home delivery of their medication, and when they choose to collect in person, they only need to go to the pharmacy (rather than multiple trips between home, their GP surgery and the pharmacy). This means fewer journeys made and less carbon emitted.

How Phlo Connect works with partners to make digital prescribing possible

As the market-leading API-driven pharmacy infrastructure platform, Phlo Connect works with pharmacies and healthcare providers to facilitate a fully digital prescribing journey - from the point of prescribing to the point of delivery. Our Advanced Digital Signing solution, which is fully integrated and exceeds minimum compliance standards, has been built to deliver time stamped metadata, blockchain attestations, API endpoints, customisable authenticated prescribing sessions, and end-to-end prescriber to patient journey maps. This means ‍that all prescribing activity is tracked, logged, backed-up, and fully auditable, so patterns of behaviour and trends in prescribing can be monitored automatically.  

Would you like to learn more about how your organisation and patients can benefit from digital prescribing in partnership with Phlo Connect? Get in touch with a member of our team.

Written by

Katie Beaton

Head of Product

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