The use of digital prescribing is an example of the digital transformation underway in healthcare. Other examples include mobile applications, telehealth and wireless solutions are being in nursing homes and hospitals. In addition, healthcare platforms are being used to monitor chronic diseases and to access medical health records. Digital prescribing refers to the data capture of prescribing to track drug usage and the application of big data analytics to review prescribing trends. Such systems also have the capability to allow pharmacists to verify who drugs are prescribed to, to guard against drug misuse and abuse.
Digital prescribing also provides health services with useful information, from which decisions about drug stocks can be made, as well as capturing big data analytics for when it comes to negotiating drug prices with pharmaceutical corporations. Other useful information that can be gathered and processed includes prescription cost analysis; the number of prescriptions dispensed within a given community; the costs of prescribing and so forth.
There are also time savings to made. For example, with the U.K. National Health Service, the Electronic Prescription Service allows prescriptions to be sent direct to pharmacies through IT systems used in doctor’s surgeries. The long-term aim is to remove the need for most paper prescriptions. The health service in the U.K. has also taken advantage of a platform called iView which allows for three measures of prescribing data to be made: number of items, net ingredient cost and actual cost, drawn from pharmacies across the country.
The Isle of Man has also embarked on the digitalization of its prescribing process. The Isle of Man is a self-governing crown dependency in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II. The Isle of Man government’s digital strategy has extended to the purchase of a new electronic prescribing system for inpatients at its major hospitals. The new technology was designed in the U.K. and it will go live in 2018.
The aim of the system is to end to paper-based prescribing for inpatients. This means tablets and other mobile devices at the bedside in the hospital in the future. The use of such technology will enable medical staff to access information on a patient’s medication history rapidly. The technology will also enable electronic prescribing, aiding medics with deciding on which treatments to prescribe and at which dosage.
Furthermore, when nurses administer drugs, the dose and treatment times can be electronically captured. This also negates the risk of misinterpreting a prescriber’s intention.
Commenting on the decision, the Chief Pharmacist and the island’s Nobel Hospital, Alan Pearson, said: “Electronic prescribing is another important stage in the overall digital technology transformation of Noble’s Hospital and the wider health service. There is strong evidence from other health authorities that digital prescribing saves both time and money. What is more, it promotes even greater patient safety with its real-time support and guidance for prescribers.”
The adoption by an entire community shows how integrated digital health technologies can be implemented, and this type of adoption signals that rapid pace that digital health technology is being take up.