ePrescribing will be part of the PharmaNet-eRx system. It will permit physicians to write a prescription electronically that can be picked up in the pharmacy, as part of the larger EHR system. Only doctors who have EMRs will be able to ePrescribe on PharmaNet-eRx.

The system is intended to check the prescription against the patient’s medication information to identify any potential drug interactions or allergies and notify the doctor. After the doctor has reviewed the issues, she will confirm the prescription and it will be added to PharmaNet-eRx. The pharmacist will then be able to retrieve the electronic prescription from PharmaNet-eRx.

The PharmaNet-eRx system will make more comprehensive patient medication profiles available to the physician’s and pharmacists’ offices. The long-term goal is to enable patients to get online access to their own medication profile and to a log of who has had access to it.

Giving patients an easy way to see their own medication profile and to see who else has accessed it is a positive step, but the government will have to be very careful to ensure that appropriate security measures are in place to protect the file online. Furthermore, in circumstances where the patient does not want their doctor or local pharmacist (or someone in those offices) to see their medication records, but wants to keep their condition confidential, PharmaNet will make this very difficult unless the individual puts a keyword (or a disclosure directive on their file.

A keyword would block access to their whole file. It is not yet known whether a disclosure directive could block access only to certain entries in the medication records, or even whether PharmaNet will be designated a HIB and therefore whether disclosure directives will be available for PharmaNet.