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Doctors' Prescriptions Go High-Tech

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RALEIGH, N.C. — It is a big transition for most doctors to change from handwritten prescriptions to prescribing them electronically. However, many believe the Internet and wireless technology in the doctor's office is the wave of the future.

Bridgette Jennings came to see Dr. Dean Blakeley about a bad cold. If she needs a prescription, he's ready to write one up electronically.

Through wireless technology, he sees insurance information, allergies and a list of other medications she's taking. It also helps him avoid a big mistake.

"Catching a potential medical interaction, especially for new medications that are coming out all the time," he said.

A computer can flag the bad drug combinations. Rather than handing patients paper prescriptions, the information is sent to their pharmacies' computers.

"It's much quicker, actually, because it's electronic. In our computer is all the information we need, loaded in the computer, immediately," said pharmacist Mike James.

Some doctors shy away from the added costs of handheld PDAs, software licenses and other fees. Blue Cross Blue Shield

is now helping

to pay those costs for many doctors in the state. They believe it could save its members millions of dollars in medical costs.

The network shows the doctor which cheaper generic drugs are available, and doctors save money by saving time.

"I would say the cost savings is in staff time, having to run around and grab charts, you know, chasing paper trails, things of that sort," Blakeley said.

Many patients might be concerned that their personal medical information is possibly accessible by anyone with a computer. Doctors need a password to access it. They need a patient's name, birth date and Social Security number to find their medical information.


Rick Armstrong, Producer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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