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Electronic prescriptions

While so much money has been spent (and will be spent) on electronic medical records, we have been missing the whole point – it may not be practical to computerize everything and anything in healthcare. The cost just exceeds the benefits. So this constrains us to reflect as to what areas would benefit the most from automation?

Easy – ask yourself – what are the cost centers?

Looking at a health facility, these are: room and board, drugs and supplies, labs, and radiology. Automating these business processes would bring bang for the buck. Automating other areas would bring satisfaction to the health informatics professional but not for the company bottom-line.

Electronic prescription seems the lowest lying fruit. This is what consumes most of the time of doctors and also a common reason for patient safety problems (illegible prescriptions, misreadings of pharmacists).

Of courses you can create your own e-prescription software but why reinvent the wheel? The US National Library of Medicine in Bethesda has created two e-prescription software: MyMedicationList (for patients) and MyRxPad (for doctors). They run on Java on any platform. Try it out!

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