U.S. Military Announces Major Expansion of Electronic Prescription Ordering System

The days of illegible handwritten prescriptions are quickly becoming a thing of the past — even for U.S. military pharmacies. According to officials from the Defense Health Agency, the U.S. Military Health System has just expanded the prescription system used by pharmacies on military bases in the U.S., as well as Guam and Puerto Rico, so that civilian doctors can send in prescriptions electronically.

Electronic prescription systems aren’t exactly brand new; many civilian pharmacies already allow doctors to send in prescriptions electronically, and military doctors have been using digital prescription ordering systems with on-base pharmacies for their patients for a while.

The obvious problem for many patients, however, was that they preferred to see a civilian doctor rather than a military physician. With the expanded system, patients merely have to ask their physician to look for the closest military pharmacy in the digital ordering database, and then pick up their prescription at their chosen pharmacy without having to worry about losing the script or waiting for it to be processed and filled.

Although there are quite a few restrictions between pharmacies and medical providers regarding electronic prescriptions, pharmacies that have begun using advanced POS and prescription databases have stated that these systems allow their pharmacies to minimize errors and work out problems before customers even come into the store.

Pharmacy POS technologies go further than your typical retail POS solution in meeting the specific needs for a pharmacy,” says Mike Gross, VP of Sales & Marketing, Retail Management Solutions. “Pharmacies, unlike general retail stores, have to follow many regulations when dispensing prescriptions. Having a pharmacy specific POS offers additional capabilities beyond what a generic POS would offer. Features such as electronic signature capture for HIPAA, Safety Cap declines, and the prescription acknowledgement all need to be part part of the check-out procedure in a pharmacy. Beyond that, a more robust pharmacy POS solution should offer capabilities like patient verification, ensuring that the prescriptions that are given to the patient are indeed for them, and not another patient.”

Similar to most civilian pharmacies, military pharmacies will still require handwritten prescriptions for controlled drugs, regardless of the doctor prescribing the medication. Additionally, the system won’t allow patients to fill prescription medications unless their chosen military pharmacy normally carries the drugs. Overall, officials seem to expect that the system, which was tested out in 2014, will promote a safer and more convenient experience for patients.

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