One morning this month, Silvia Cota, a nurse supervisor in the emergency room at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, gathered her nurses together in a huddle to prepare them for the future.

“It really is not a complicated thing,” Ms. Cota told them, speaking loudly over the bustle of patients and emergency room staff. “We just have to get used to it.”

Starting on March 27, the way prescriptions are written in New York State will change. Gone will be doctors’ prescription pads and famously bad handwriting. In their place: pointing and clicking, as prescriptions are created electronically and zapped straight to pharmacies in all but the most exceptional circumstances.

New York is the first state to require that all prescriptions be created electronically and to back up that mandate with penalties, including fines and imprisonment, for physicians who fail to comply. Minnesota has a law requiring electronic prescribing but does not penalize doctors who cling to pen and paper.