Editor’s Note: Tom Sullivan, MD is the Chief Strategic Officer at DrFirst, a provider of ePrescribing and medication management solutions to improve clinical workflows, expedite secure collaboration across a patient’s care team and drive better health outcomes. As the Chief Strategy Officer at DrFirst, Dr. Sullivan’s input helps DrFirst design elegantly simple and intuitive technology solutions that help doctors quickly reap the benefits of e-prescribing
No one disputes that properly managing a person’s medications is key to effective treatment, including reducing adverse reactions. Unfortunately, physicians aren’t always able to take advantage of all available information when making clinical decisions because they are grappling with siloed data, disconnected workflows and incomplete information. For example, physicians often must go through tedious and time-consuming steps to log into multiple systems on their office computers in order to access full patient medication histories.
Mobile medication management enables physicians and prescribers to simplify interactions with patients and reduce the time required to chart and document patient interactions, whether in or out of the office. By integrating critical medication management technologies with the convenience of mobile devices, physicians are armed with a comprehensive range of patient-centered technologies that extend to the full lifecycle of patient care, regardless of their physical location.
Each technology brings another piece to the full lifecycle medication management puzzle. Integral tools include solutions for e-prescribing, electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS), prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), medication history, clinical trial adjudication, secure collaboration, price transparency, financial assistance, medication adherence monitoring and patient-validated medication history. Physicians with ready-access to such solutions are more informed and able to make better decisions when engaging patients. It also makes it easier for physicians to access comprehensive patient medication histories and e-prescribing functions, and provides a single, streamlined workflow for physicians conducting patient rounds.
Simplicity, efficiency and accessibility
Mobile medication management is indispensable to medical practices because it is simple, efficient and increases access to patient data. Here are five key reasons why:
1. Patient safety: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions estimates that more than one million individuals are seen in hospital emergency departments (EDs) for adverse drug events (ADEs) each year. Over one-quarter of these patients need to be hospitalized for further treatment. Overall, blood thinners (anticoagulants), antibiotics, diabetes drugs, and opioid analgesics are the drug classes most commonly implicated ADEs leading to ED visits. Physicians can be prepared to address ADEs at any time – during office hours or after hours – by having complete patient medication histories available via a mobile device.
Mobile medication management also improves safety by allowing physicians to conveniently submit prescription orders as they are visiting with patients. This improves prescription accuracy by reducing transcription errors, and facilitates clinician-patient discussions to address questions about interaction alerts and medication histories.
2. Patient loyalty: To be successful, every medical practice needs loyal patients. It is generally far more expensive for any business to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, and higher customer retention is generally correlated with higher profitability. For example, the cost of motivating current patients for return care is 90 percent less than the costs associated with attracting new patients. Patient satisfaction is an antecedent of patient loyalty, and more satisfied patients are likely to develop long-term loyalty to their physicians. Because mobile medication management enables easier and more convenient physician-patient interaction, it improves the patient experience, enhances patient satisfaction and creates a steady stream of loyal patients returning to the practice for care.
3. Physician productivity: Despite the shift to value-based care, most physicians still have some portion of their compensation tied to production. According to nonprofit group The Physicians Foundation, the average physician spends at least 20 percent of her time on uncompensated tasks, a figure that has nearly doubled in the last decade. For the average family practice physician, this equates to roughly $60,000 a year in lost revenue – and the amount is even higher for specialists. Mobile medication management tools help physicians be more productive and generate more revenue by making it faster and more convenient to document patient visits.
4. Practice throughput: The more patients a physician sees in a day, the more lives she can impact. Increased patient volumes can also benefit practices financially. For example, a primary care practice that sees just one more patient a day could add $25,000 annually to its bottom line, while a specialty group might experience an increase of $50,000 a year. Further, efficient practice design, including the wise use of time-saving technologies such as mobile medication management tools, can improve workflows, reduce staffing needs and cut overhead costs.
5. Record access: Patients often need access to their medical records during a natural disaster. Unfortunately, when there’s a hurricane, flood, earthquake, or fire, patients may have an especially difficult time obtaining those records because of forced evacuations of medical facilities or damage to buildings, roads, and communication systems. Mobile medication management tools make patient records more accessible and allow for prescriptions to be sent regardless of physical location, enabling physicians to provide better care in crisis situations.
The use of mobile technology has become so widespread that it’s nearly ubiquitous. Technology users across all industries increasingly expect to enjoy the same capabilities on their smart phones and tablets as are available on desktop computers. Physicians are no different. They are seeing patients in multiple settings, sometimes outside of traditional office hours, and require supporting tools.
With mobile medication management technology, physicians can access a wide range of patient-centered tools via hand-held devices, enabling straightforward and convenient e-prescribing, patient-encounter documentation, medication adherence monitoring and more. By simplifying these tasks for physicians, mobile medication management tools can lead to financially healthier medical practices; more satisfied patients, clinicians and staff; and improved patient outcomes.