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feature E-Prescribing Expertise

The E-Prescribing Learning Curve: One Pharmacy’s Experience by Will Lockwood Marge and Rick McCoy can speak firsthand about the changes that the new system brings both to the relationship between physicians and pharmacists and to the prescription-filling process in the pharmacy.


harmacists Rick and Marge McCoy have what they call an unusual practice at Lopez Island Pharmacy near Seattle. First, they are located on an island, 15 miles long, two miles wide, and only accessible by boat or plane. Second, the community-owned health clinic is visible from their back door, leading them to spend their days interacting with both patients and the providers at the clinic — a physician, a nurse practitioner, and a physical therapy department, all managed by the local hospital. “We have full access to the clinic,” says Rick McCoy. “All this makes us very heavily patient oriented.” This close relationship with the island’s primary providers has led to another situation that likely makes Lopez Island Pharmacy different: The McCoys report receiving 90% of new prescriptions, with the exception of controlled substances, electronically since the clinic installed its new practice management system last year. “We’ve hit the tipping point with e-prescribing,” says Rick McCoy. As a result, the McCoys, who counts themselves as advocates for e-prescribing and technology in general, now have a wealth of experience with e-prescribing at least as it works in their practice. You’ll note that we are talking about new prescriptions, and Rick McCoy is quick to point out that

Marge and Rick McCoy have found their close relationship with Lopez Island physicians has led to 90% of new prescriptions coming in electronically.

the clinic has yet to turn on the functionality for refills, for reasons that we’ll delve into later.

Starting with New Prescriptions The thing Rick and Marge report being most worried about as the clinic began ramping up e-prescriptions was the prepopulated directions for use. “On a written prescription we usually translated the doctor’s written direc-

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January/February 2012