The Extremadura Regional Government of Spain and IBM (Armonk, New York) have launched an electronic prescription system in 680 pharmacies in Extremadura, where health centers and pharmacies are now computerized and able to prescribe and dispense prescription medications electronically.
Electronic prescriptions make it easier for patients and doctors to monitor and control treatment. It also improves the quality of care as doctors have up to 30% more time for patient consultations, according to Extremadura Health Service.
Each patient's electronic record can be accessed and updated from any primary health center in the region. More patients can get prescription refills without having to return to the doctor's office, working with pharmacists who are in direct contact with health professionals.
IBM provided the consulting services and technology for the project, which was enabled by the Extremadura Health Service using a common technology system for the 107 health centers in the region. Over the past seven months, more than 1 million electronic prescriptions have been dispensed in Extremadura.
This is how it works: A physician accesses JARA, the Extremadura Health System's electronic medical records database that provides prescription assistance tools. The treatment is recorded in the system and the patient's electronic medical record is automatically updated. Patients receive a list of prescribed medicines and dosage instructions that have a barcode, or "identity mark," for their individual treatment.
In the pharmacy, a pharmacist fills the prescription from the updated health record, which is encrypted to ensure the confidentiality of patient information. Pharmacists note the refill using the patient's health card and the barcode. The doctor can check that the medicine has been dispensed and view any questions posed by the patient to the pharmacist.