How Electronic Prescriptions Prevent Doctor Shopping

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bottle of pills for medication adherence

Doctor shopping is a practice of visiting multiple doctors/physicians to obtain medication for the same prescription. In 2008 alone, one out of every 143 patients in the US received multiple opioid prescriptions by deceiving physicians into believing that he was getting the drug for legitimate needs, not disclosing the fact that they are also filling prescriptions from other physicians. Doctor shopping leads to drug abuse, addiction, drug diversion, and illegal drug distribution. It’s estimated that for every $1 of fraudulent drug claims, an additional $41 is spent on related medical claims — Those are the claims that are filed on redundant medical visits, unnecessary tests, etc.  

People commit doctor shopping primarily because: 

They get addicted to the drug and want to obtain more of it for personal use.  
They may have had a legitimate reason to get a prescription at one time in the past, but no longer have a legitimate prescription.  
They are drug sellers who obtain drugs by doctor shopping and then resell them to other buyers, illegally.  

Long story short, doctor shopping poses huge risks for patients as well as practitioners and the representatives of the software that supports them. Here’s how electronic prescriptions can stop doctor shopping in its tracks and prevent it from occurring in the first place.  

How Can Electronic Prescriptions Help Prevent Doctor Shopping?

Doctor shoppers are able to obtain multiple prescriptions from different doctors because it’s not easy to keep track of a patient’s medical history using the paper prescription form. Patients can easily lie about their condition and/or hide the fact that they just got the same prescription from another physician without getting caught because there’s no way for the current physician to check their prescription drug history.   

Electronic prescriptions enable doctors to communicate directly with pharmacies so that fact-checking the patient’s medical history becomes an easy task. Instead of relying on the patient’s words when handing out prescriptions, now doctors can look at that patient’s medical record and see a history of prescribed drugs as well as access prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) status. Doctor shopping is, therefore, impossible. In addition to the elimination of doctor shopping, e-prescribing also helps make a doctor’s job easier: Once a prescription for a chronic condition has been filled, refills take less effort just by looking at the record. 

Electronic prescriptions are being used to cope with the illegal dispensing of narcotics (opioids). According to a survey conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services, between 2002 and 2011, there were 25 million people that used prescribed opioids for nonmedical purposes. Those people are the ones who are most likely to suffer from a drug overdose. In 2010 alone, the number of deaths from opioid pain reliever overdose reached 17,000. By removing prescriptions from a patient’s hands, e-prescribing helps eliminate fraud and reduces drug abuse. When used with a comprehensive EHR system, Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) can help fight doctor shopping and all of its consequences. 

Facts about EPCS  

  • It was approved by the DEA in 2010.
  • Electronic prescribing can help save $240 billion in healthcare costs related to substance abuse.
  • Prescribing time using the electronic system is 600% faster than that of a paper-and-pen system, with time being reduced from 3-5 minutes to 30 seconds. 
  • E-prescribing helps reduce opioid-related deaths by increasing prescription security and improved drug monitoring. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Electronic Prescription Vendor 

If you are an EHR provider, the tools brought to the table by a trusted e-prescribe partner to prevent doctor shopping can add value to your product offering, improve patient care, and offer relief from the ever-present dark cloud of regulatory mishaps.  

Yet, adopting an electronic prescription system takes time and effort. The first step would be choosing the right e-prescribe vendor. There are several factors to consider when you compare different vendors: 

Patient Safety Always Comes First 

The point of adopting an electronic prescription system is to reduce drug abuse, which in turn helps improve patient safety. Your e-prescribe software should ensure accuracy with regard to the patient’s medical history and prescription record. 

Formulary Checking 

The cost of medications can be quite high for low-income families, leading to people’s forgoing medical treatments completely or purchasing medication at great financial hardship. To help low-income patients cope with the cost of treatment, e-prescribe software should be able to do formulary checking. A drug formulary is a list of related drugs that have the same effects but have lower costs. For example, depending on the patient’s insurer, the application should display a list of drugs approved by that insurer, since selecting an unapproved drug would cost the patient more. Formulary checking will also display a variety of information such as recommended dosage, side effects, possible copays, or contraindications. 

Effective Adverse Drug Interaction/Event Alerts 

Doctors should be able to tell by looking at a patient’s prescription history what prescriptions the patient is already taking and what side effects (if any) the new prescription would have on the already prescribed drugs. Equipped with that information, doctors can then choose a drug that is safest for the patient. Drug interaction alerts are an important feature to be had in any e-prescribe application. 

Medication Decision Assistance 

Decision support systems have been used for decades to help make a doctor’s job easier. According to a study, hospitals in the US saw a 66% drop in prescription errors after adopting a decision support system. Used together with adverse drug interaction alerts, a medication decision support system can help reduce preventable adverse drug incidents. The more evidence-based information regarding a particular drug a doctor has access to, the better his decision will be when prescribing that drug to patients. 

Medical Error Elimination 

Preventable medical errors claim a high number of lives each year. These errors could be eliminated with the use of an accurate e-prescribe application. 

Faster and Safer Prescribing

As discussed above, e-prescribe software has been proven to reduce treatment time significantly. This should benefit both patients and doctors alike. The clarity and accuracy of the prescription prevent any possible misunderstandings or ambiguities on the pharmacy’s part. 

As you can see, adopting an electronic prescription system can totally transform how medical practitioners work. Not only will such a system help detect and prevent doctor shopping, but it will also benefit the patients in many other ways. Implementing such a system shouldn’t be a complicated and time-consuming task, provided you work with the right vendor. Schedule a demo today to learn about NewCrop’s e-prescribe software and how a partnership with NewCrop can add value to your EHR.  



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