In a post on the 5th, World of DTC Marketing has an interesting post on the growing use of e-prescribing, which is Medicare's pending imposition of penalties for doctors who don't do it. This is a little like the Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter. Rule Six ends with the sentence "If you make her cry, I will make you cry." Once the government ties Medicare reimbursement to the use of e-prescribing, it's a done deal.
Here's how it works. Instead of writing out a prescription on a pad, which then gets taken to the pharmacy, the physician instead prescribes through a computer. The prescription is automatically transmitted to the pharmacy, where the prescription's filled. If the patient is using a pharmacy-by-mail program, the prescription is simply mailed to the patient. This means that all they need to do is visit the doctor. Everything else is automatic.
And here's where it really gets interesting, and fun. "After 2 weeks the patient receives an eMail from his or her doctor
informing him that it’s time to renew the prescription along with a
link to health information about the health condition and product."
In other words, the beginning of an RM program is built right into the computer system that generates the prescription. The entire system is what steel manufacturers call vertically integrated — beginning with the doctor visit, and continuing indefinitely,
This benefits everyone. The physician can keep closer tabs on his patients, and do all kinds of follow-up reminders automatically. He or she also doesn't have to worry about whether the pharmacist can read the prescription, or whether there's some other kind of screwup. The pharmacy runs more efficiently, and benefits as well from the reduced chance of mistakes.
But the real winner here is the patients. The system is virtually seamless, and makes it incredibly easy both to get your meds, and to stay on them. Short of actually sending someone over to pop the pills in your mouth, it's hard to imagine a more user-friendly system. As time marches on, which it has a habit of doing, the Baby Boomer patients are increasingly going to be supplanted by Generation X and Y types, who live on cyberspace. For them, this system is tailor-made. In fact, it's necessary to the point of being obvious.
We can only fantasize about where this is all going. At the moment, most e-prescription followup is pretty straightforward, and basic. But we can see a day when video, blogs and all kinds of other media are integrated into a vastly more sophisticated RM system, that includes demographic and geographic data, and the features programs custom-designed for each patient.