ePrescribing and EPCS can help fight opioid epidemic

ePrescribing EPCSThese days the opioid epidemic is a frequent news story. While the government tries hard to keep abuse of prescription painkillers in check, healthcare providers on the front lines require tools to support the appropriate prescribing of controlled substances.

Electronic prescribing (ePrescribing) and Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS) are 2 of those tools. Eprescribing is the direct digital transfer of patient prescriptions from provider to pharmacy. EPCS is a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) certified solution mandated at the state level that requires identity proofing to ensure that only an authorized prescriber is issuing prescriptions.

Eprescribing and EPCS help to reduce fraud and abuse of controlled substances. It prevents patients from obtaining multiple prescriptions for the same drug from several physicians or from using forged prescriptions. Moving from paper-based prescribing to ePrescribing and EPCS enables providers to make use of enhanced security features that technology affords. Prescribers are authenticated before prescribing a controlled substance and prescriptions are transmitted to pharmacies securely without risk of alteration or diversion. Eprescribing also allows instant access to patient medication history.

An extra layer of protection

EPCS requires two-factor authentication (2fa), which means more than 2 types of identification components are needed in the application sign-on process to authenticate identity. Typically the 2 factors include a user-created password and a one-time password (OTP) produced by a hard or soft token. The most common form of 2fa is used at automated teller machines (ATMs). An ATM requires the user to possess a physical card, as well as provide a personal identification number (PIN). For EPCS, a  third-party provider typically supports the use of the token and a fee is charged directly to the provider for the hardware, OTP token, and identity proofing subscription. One token is required for each prescribing provider in the practice.

States enhancing patient safety

All states now allow eprescribing and 91% of U.S. pharmacies are enabled to accept electronic prescriptions, but not all states require EPCS. As of November 2018, Minnesota, New York, Maine, and Connecticut have EPCS mandates. Other states, including, Arizona, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Virginia have passed legislation that goes into effect in the next 2 years. Another 14 states have had legislation introduced, and about half of these bills will likely pass soon. See an interactive map here.

To obtain the full benefits of EPCS, find an ePrescribing solution that provides the ability to write and manage prescriptions electronically within the electronic health record (EHR), and that includes insight into patient medication history and formulary checking.

To learn more about implementing EPCS call us at 1.888.835.3409.

Sources:  Exostar, DEA, HealthIT.gov, USA Today, MedCoverage, MDToolbox, Surescripts,  Histalk

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