E-prescribing needed for VA, government watchdog says

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Department of Veterans Affairs clinicians and pharmacists should be able to order medications electronically and track dispensing of controlled prescription drugs, among other best practices, according to a government report.

The lack of e-prescribing means veterans have to take paper prescriptions from external providers or have providers fax prescriptions to their local VA pharmacy, which is “time consuming and inefficient,” says the Government Accountability Office report, which was published last week.

The GAO noted other inefficiencies for VA pharmacists, including an inability to view patient medication data between department pharmacy systems. Current systems also do not allow prescriptions to be transferred between VA pharmacies.

The VA's system also does not maintain a perpetual inventory management capability to monitor medication inventory levels, the report notes.

Report authors said that, in general, the VA agreed with its assessments. Modernization plans include (by May 2018) the capability to transfer prescriptions from one VHA pharmacy to another,and allowing veterans to obtain prescription refills at a different VHA medical site. The latter plan is slated to start in September.