DUBAI // Pharmacists in the Northern Emirates are calling for a similar centralised system for monitoring prescriptions as the one introduced in Abu Dhabi.
Anwar Hussain, senior operations manager for Aster Pharmacies, said he was looking forward to a similar system being implemented in Dubai.
"Many times we don't know if the patient has already received a prescription for the same or similar medication," he said. "In addition to contraindications [conditions or factors that serve as a reason to withhold a medical treatment] this helps ensure there are no duplications."
A non-digitised system can also allow some requests to fall between the cracks, Mr Hussain said. "It is the responsibility of pharmacies to make sure they have the exclusions lists and are familiar with them," he said. "But when you're dealing with 15 insurance companies, sometimes confusion happens."
Previously in Abu Dhabi, pharmacists would have to check a list to see if a particular drug was covered. After the patient had already left with the drug, the pharmacist would often discover it was not covered by the insurance company.
Now, the moment the pharmacy receives the approval, payment is guaranteed.
Mr Hussain said that regulated insurance in Abu Dhabi had helped facilitate this, and he expected the same to happen in Dubai once mandatory coverage is introduced.
Dr Haidar Al Yousuf, director of health funding at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), said the agency was in the process of implementing e-claims, in which every prescription is electronically recorded on the authority's web portal.
Phase I began in June, where all claims made through Enaya, Dubai's insurance scheme for government employees, were recorded. Phase II, covering all other claims made through private providers, launched last month. While this will be further formalised once mandatory insurance is introduced in the emirate, it will not be limited to prescription paid for by insurance, Dr Al Yousuf said.
"We are also requiring pharmacies to also record out-of-pocket transactions," he said. "They would use the same format, except instead of going through the insurance company, it would go straight to us. The main point here is to protect the patient and make sure there are no severe drug interactions."
A pharmacist at Al Ameer Pharmacy in Sharjah said he would like to see a similar system implemented in his emirate. "Most of the customers who come in here, we're not aware if they've been to another doctor," he said. "We try our best to address these issues, but this is the doctor's responsibility."
However, implementing such a system requires financial support, the pharmacist said. "We don't have the computers or the technology and this would be a large investment from our end," he said.
Currently only prescriptions for controlled medications are monitored by the Ministry of Health.
The ministry was not available for comment.