Medication Management: From Alert Fatigue to Specialty Meds, the Future of E-Prescribing Workflows Redefined

April 2, 2024


Medication Management: From Alert Fatigue to Specialty Meds, the Future of E-Prescribing Workflows Redefined

Broad adoption of e-prescribing? Check! Now, the focus shifts to unlocking its full potential as the essential link between a doctor’s orders and a patient’s actions.

The aim is to streamline workflows, reduce clinician workload, and prioritize prescription data within electronic health record (EHR) systems to boost medication adherence.

Recently, DrFirst hosted a webinar targeted at EHRs and other health technology vendors to unveil strategies aimed at streamlining clinical workflows and improving patient outcomes.

Expert panelists led the discussion on combating alert fatigue, crafting evidence-based workflows, overcoming challenges linked to specialty medications, and bolstering medication adherence. Additionally, attendees received an exclusive preview of upcoming transformative enhancements.

In an interactive segment, we polled attendees to find out what their organization’s priorities are in 2024-25. Notably, an overwhelming majority chose optimizing clinical workflows as top of mind.

“Providers are struggling,” said Nick Barger, PharmD, DrFirst’s VP of Product, who pointed out that an increase in burnout from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a domino effect.

Data Integrity and Safety

As many as 85% of medication errors stem from the process of gathering medication history when a patient arrives at the hospital. Because not all systems talk to one another, a list must often be created from scratch and even if a list is provided, it is rarely accurate.

Interoperability frameworks have improved, but there is still a lot of free-flowing information within them—and health systems are still grappling with this problem.

“While it’s good to have the data flow from one electronic health record to another,” said Barger, “it’s an entirely different bar to have that data clean and usable.”

Clinical-Grade AI Supports Clinical Decision-Making

The discussion continued with DrFirst’s AI approach, which incorporates patented technology capable of safely translating free text and supplementing missing data.

Barger quoted fellow “AI optimist” Micky Tripathi, head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC): “AI-based technologies have the potential to accelerate innovation, increase competition, help ameliorate health inequities, reduce clinician burnout, and improve care and the care experience for patients.”

Empowering providers with clinical-grade AI “built by clinicians and for clinicians,” Barger asserted, will play a huge role in improving the usability of data.

“Clinical-grade AI prioritizes safety, reliability, and a clinician-centered approach,” he said. “Additionally, transparency and validation of translations are essential.”

Highlighting a statistic that reveals more than 70% of clinicians feel inundated by patient data, Barger underscored an urgent need to reduce the onslaught of pop-ups in EHRs while ensuring that the alerts presented are truly impactful. “Alert fatigue is a genuine concern for clinicians,” Barger emphasized, warning of a dangerous trend where physicians may begin disregarding crucial alerts due to overload.

“Decision support tools are designed to enhance patient outcomes,” he continued, but studies have shown only marginal improvements attributed to clinical alerts, prompting a call for industry-wide improvement. It is time to elevate our standards and strive for solutions that genuinely empower clinicians and optimize patient care, said Barger.

Customizable Clinical Support

Caleb Dunn, PharmD, from DrFirst, highlighted the disruptive nature of alerts, emphasizing that they often hinder rather than help prescribers. “Prescribers are eager to eliminate unnecessary pop-ups,” he asserted. “They crave relevance; they want alerts that genuinely matter in the moment.”

One glaring problem is alerts after the prescriber has already decided on a medication. “Having a decision support system intervene after the fact is counterproductive,” Dunn explained. “We need to shift the guidance upstream, ensuring that it supports each provider’s decision-making process rather than second-guessing it.”

Dunn stressed the importance of an interface that is both clear and intuitive, featuring alerts that are digestible rather than overwhelming. A solution that enhances efficiency and empowers prescribers is needed, he said, not one that adds unnecessary obstacles to their workflow.

Intelligent Pharmacy Logic and Specialty Medications

The complexity of specialty medications present challenges for providers and patients alike. Barger espoused a comprehensive approach that melds enhancements in provider workflows with robust patient engagement strategies.

One in five specialty prescriptions is routed to a pharmacy ineligible to dispense those medications—a predicament that often thrusts the burden onto the patient, leading to frustrating delays in starting therapy. The solution lies in intelligent pharmacy selection for these specialized medications, ensuring seamless delivery to the right place.

Yet, as Barger asserts, this is merely the inception of a patient’s journey. The task remains incomplete. It is imperative to not only ensure the accurate transmission of prescriptions but also to support patients throughout their treatment journey, from initiation to successful conclusion.

DrFirst’s approach ensures that prescriptions are sent to the patient’s chosen pharmacy, and on ensuring that the pharmacy is eligible to dispense the specialty medication, he said.

Enhanced Patient Adherence

The webinar also emphasized the importance of adopting an integrated approach to e-prescribing that not only empowers prescribers but also engages patients by addressing behavioral, financial, and practical barriers to medication adherence.

According to Barger, provider workflow improvements paired with patient engagement strategies maximizes adherence and significantly reduces the number of abandoned prescriptions.

“When you combine a provider workflow strategy with the patient engagement strategy, and they talk to one another, that’s where you start to move the needle on medication adherence,” he said.

In building an intelligent alerts framework, Dunn said, DrFirst is keeping “an eye on the future” and on bridging the gap between prescription writing and patient compliance.

“If you are sending the prescription to a pharmacist that is not part of the limited distribution network, that’s when we show you this information,” Dunn said. “We allow you to engage with it and changing it to a different pharmacy is as simple as a click. The friction’s gone—we made it easy.”

With this solution, patients don’t get stalled, he added, and they can pick up and begin taking their medication right away.

Improving EHR functionality involves several key steps—securely translating free text, filling in missing data, and ensuring that previously unusable data becomes usable. Additionally, customized alerts and decision support at the site level enables workflows tailored to individual patient requirements. This reduces unnecessary clicks and keystrokes, enhancing efficiency and minimizing the risk of errors.

Learn more by watching the full webinar, “Experts Reveal the Optimal Clinical Workflows of the Future,” now available on demand.

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About DrFirst
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Since 2000, DrFirst has pioneered healthcare technology solutions and consulting services that securely connect people at touchpoints of care to improve patient outcomes.