Electronic prescription: meaningful use not meaningful enough?

Electronic prescription: meaningful use not meaningful enough?

Summary: Apparently, our current meaningful use standards for electronic prescription are too low to make a difference.

TOPICS: Health

According to an article published in Health Affairs, the current targets set for meaningful use of electronic prescription are "probably too low to have a significant impact on deaths from heart failure and heart attack among hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries."

If you're interested in the specifics and would like to learn more, read the abstract of the article, or the full article.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, meaningful use refers to the standards set by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for measurability of implementation of electronic health record technology.

According to the article in Health Affairs, basically, meaningful use doesn't become meaningful until it's twice as meaningful as it means to be in the near future, at least where heart patients are concerned. Conversely, electronic medication order entry didn't really mean much to pneumonia mortality rates.

If I had to hazard a guess why, I'd say that it's because heart patients are often on such a number of medications, with such interaction potential and such need for regular assessment, that the removal of complications associated with paper prescription (along with the addition of the cross-checking for errors that computer prescription makes possible) lowers the possibility of mistakes and increases the odds for successful outcomes.

Hopefully, this data will be taken into consideration when choosing the criteria for the next stage of meaningful use.

Image courtesy of Flickr user RambergMediaImages

How do you feel about the way we're moving toward electronic health records and prescription? Share in the TalkBacks below.

Topic: Health


Denise Amrich is a Registered Nurse, the health care advisor for the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute, and a mentor for the Virtual Campus at Florida's Brevard Community College.

Nothing in this article is meant to be a substitute for medical advice, and shouldn't be considered as such. If you are in need of medical help, please see your doctor.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Broken links

    The links to the full article and to the abstract are broken.

    Meaningful use is anything but meaningful. It just complicates an already complicated process and forces Healthcare entities to spend money they don't have to try to fit processes in a governmental framework.

    Patients in the hospital already had their medication orders checked for accuracy and interactions. That's what the pharmacy systems do. Pharmacists don't just blindly fill whatever a doctor orders. The order goes into the pharmacy system where it's checked against allergies, interactions, and for accuracy of what the doctor prescribed.

    So, no, I wouldn't expect meaningful use to affect outcomes overall, except to make the patient's hospital stay more expensive.
  • RE: Electronic prescription: meaningful use not meaningful enough?

    Humans make mistakes.
  • Ok let's stay on paper then

    Great lets go back to paper charts, lost medical history, faxed lab results, and prescription pads with scribbled medication doses. Forget the progress made over the last year.
  • mpxvyil 36 gbb

    cfscgf,swclxpkm49, yvnts.