Can Prescriptions Be Emailed? Here Are Your Options

Posted November 2, 2020 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

Lots of patients tend to have the question of, can prescriptions be emailed? This question can be answered in different ways, depending on the context of your question.

We’re going to outline the three main ways this question can be answered. Here is the short answer, then we will get into more details.

Can Prescriptions Be Emailed? This can be answered in three ways:

  1. A doctor cannot email or write you a prescription by email.
  2. Practices or prescribers can email a prescription to a pharmacy.
  3. You can scan and email a prescription or picture message of a prescription to a pharmacy if they allow you to, following certain standards.

With these quick answers in mind, let’s cover them in more detail, as there are certain standards around getting a prescription emailed.

1. Can a Doctor Email You a Prescription?

Can Prescriptions Be Emailed

This question refers to a direct connection between a patient and a doctor. So, if you’re referring to a situation where you’re unable to visit the doctor and can get a prescription from the doctor through an email, the answer is a solid no.

In the first place, a doctor can issue a prescription in only two ways.

First is the most common and traditional method where a doctor should issue a handwritten prescription on a printed form. This will include details of the doctor, address, license number, and so on.

This method of issuing a prescription is required by law for certain medications, such as federally restricted drugs.

The second method is by phone, often called calling in a prescription. This is where the doctor calls your pharmacy and gives the prescription information to the pharmacy directly, which you can then get filled.

These days, if the pharmacy has the facility, faxing prescriptions and electronically sending them through appropriate software known as E-prescription is also possible.

This again is sending the prescription from the doctor’s office to your registered pharmacy and not sending it to you (the patient).

So this, therefore, means there’s no way of you getting a prescription from the doctor directly through your email.

Why Can’t a Doctor Send You a Prescription Through an Email?

There are two main legal reasons why a doctor cannot directly email you a prescription, which are as follows:

  • They’re easy to edit – If prescriptions are emailed to patients, they can edit them more easily. This is an obvious reason why prescriptions cannot be emailed to patients. With a little bit of knowledge of medications and editing skills, an email can easily be altered. This can lead to drug abuse and related health consequences.
  • A compulsory format and information are necessary for all prescriptions issued. All prescriptions issued are required by law to have a standard format and information, which cannot be abided by using email.

2. Can Prescriptions be Emailed from a Practice to a Pharmacy? 

Since the 2020 pandemic, it’s now possible for practices to scan and email a prescription to a pharmacy, from where the medication will be delivered to the patient’s door. This helps to minimize the risk of virus transmission under social-distancing measures.

Apart from this, in some states, a practice can scan and email a barcoded or non-barcoded prescription to a pharmacy. But to do this, the prescription must be physically signed and authorized by the prescriber.

Also, such prescriptions that are emailed should meet all secure messaging criteria.

However, the same rules for faxed prescriptions apply here. These are as follows:

The original prescription is not required if the emailed prescription…

  • Has a barcode
  • Is downloaded from the pharmacy’s e-prescription application
  • The prescription is for non-controlled medications

The original prescription is required…

  • If the emailed prescription has a barcode but is for a controlled medication
  • Where the emailed prescription is signed and does not have a barcode
  • If the emailed prescription is signed, has a barcode but is not downloaded from the pharmacy’s e-prescription application

Again here, emailing a prescription with the above rules is only possible from a practice to a pharmacy and if it’s legal to do so in your region. You, as a patient, can’t get the prescription emailed to you.

3. Can You Email a Prescription to a Pharmacy? 

In some cases, some pharmacies may allow the scanning and emailing of a prescription by the patient. This is accepted or allowed in cases where you have no easy access to a fax machine. 

However, there are again specific rules for this, depending on the pharmacy that allows this service. Such rules include:

  • Following a specific file format. Most of the file formats expected include, jpg, .gif, .tif, .pdf. Most scanners store images in .jpg format by default. 
  • Follow a specific file size. Often files of larger size will be difficult to download.
  • Add up all the required information by your pharmacy. This is important for your pharmacy to associate your order with your prescription verification easily. If this is not met, your order may not be considered. 

On the other hand, if you’re able to send it via picture message, keep the prescription in good lighting under a flat surface and include the entire prescription.

Can Prescriptions Be Emailed

The picture should again be sent following the image format and size accompanied with other requested information.

It should also be mentioned that pharmacies who offer these two services may charge you or may apply standard fees for such services.

What can You do When Prescriptions can’t be Emailed?

If you want to get a prescription emailed to you, perhaps because you don’t want to visit and consult a doctor in person, you can get an online consultation. Telehealth has become more popular over the years and consists of a doctor evaluating your condition over the phone or video chat.

A consultation is necessary, as a doctor cannot prescribe medication without first evaluating the patient.

Following the consultation and if a prescription is needed, your doctor can send an e-prescription to your preferred pharmacy where you can pick up your medications.

If you want to avoid the hassle of going to the pharmacy to fill the prescription, you can also allow someone else to pick it up or fill the prescription for you.

Alternatively, you can also use the mail-order prescription service.

Using this service, you will get your prescriptions filled right to your mailbox. But again, this is only possible if your insurance plan and registered pharmacy have the capacity and eligibility to do so.

A mail-order prescription works through your insurance company and its pharmacy benefit manager.

Closing Thoughts

We hope this has provided you with some useful information and answers the question, can prescriptions be emailed?

If you’re having trouble affording any of your medications, enroll with us and see if you qualify to pay only $50 a month for each of your medications.



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