AUDUBON COUNTY — The days of trying to decipher a doctor’s handwriting on your paper prescription are over, and starting Jan. 1, prescriptions are now required to be transmitted electronically.

Audubon County Public Health Director Bob Nelson said a change in the law mandates that all prescribers transmit prescriptions electronically starting this year, but really, most people won’t notice a difference, as “this has been a long time in coming,” Nelson said.

There are two good reasons for making the change, Nelson said. First, hand written prescriptions have sometimes been difficult to read, even for pharmacists who are used to doctor’s handwriting. They aren’t always legible and they aren’t always signed properly, Nelson said. But under the new requirements, the prescription has to be filled out properly in order to transmit.

The second reason for making the change is preventing abuse. With the current opiod crisis, it was too easy for people to create fake prescriptions and difficult for pharmacists to verify if what they were given was correct. “With electronic prescriptions,” Nelson said, fake prescriptions will be much harder to do.

All in all, the change will make prescriptions more accurate and will prevent medication errors, as well as helping prevent people from getting prescriptions improperly.