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ePrescribing can support the entire medicines use process, enabling medications to be managed electronically from prescribing through to supply and administration. The resources here, although no longer maintained, may be useful to trusts planning ePrescribing implementations.

Electronic prescribing (ePrescribing) systems have the potential to support the whole medicines use process, enabling medications (and other prescribed therapies) to be managed electronically at every stage, from prescribing through to supply and administration.

This section contains a wide range of advice, guidance and standards to support trusts who are implementing – or considering the implementation of – ePrescribing.

ePrescribing can potentially provide for:

  • computerised entry and management of prescriptions
  • computerised links between hospital wards/departments and pharmacies and ultimately, links to other elements of patients' individual care records
  • knowledge support, with immediate access to medicines information (e.g. British National Formulary)
  • decision support, aiding the choice of medicines and other therapies, with alerts such as drug interactions
  • a robust audit trail for the entire medicines use process.

If ePrescribing systems are developed and implemented effectively, they have the potential to deliver a wide range of benefits.

These will include a reduction in the risk of medication errors as a result of several factors, including:

  • more legible prescriptions
  • alerts for contra-indications, allergic reactions and drug interactions
  • guidance for inexperienced prescribers.

ePrescribing can also support process improvements as a result of:

  • improved communications between different departments and care settings
  • reductions in paperwork-related problems, e.g. fewer lost or illegible prescriptions
  • clearer and more complete audit trails of medication administration
  • improved formulary guidance and management, and appropriate reminders within care pathways.

It's clear that ePrescribing can have a major and positive impact on clinical practice and patient care. However, experience shows that ePrescribing systems are most effective when front line staff have been involved at every stage of their design, development, testing and implementation. The resources available in this section were therefore developed as a result of extensive engagement with healthcare professionals and other stakeholders where appropriate.