DrFirst Healthcare Technology Blog

E-Prescribing Controlled Substances: The Time is NOW!

May 29, 2012

The healthcare industry has been talking about the benefits of e-prescribing for years. By now, the advantages offered to your practice and your patients—through increased workflow efficiency and reduced medication errors—are obvious.

However,making e-prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS) available to physicians has proven to be more of a challenge. This has frustrated providers, patients, and loved ones of patients alike. In fact, one of our sales reps shared his family’s experience with me just the other day:

His father-in-law recently had surgery and was sent home with prescription pain medications. When he ran out of his medication on a Friday afternoon, our rep’s mother-in-law called their doctor’s office to obtain a prescription for a refill. The office was closing for the weekend, and the patient’s wife—who was at work at the time—couldn’t leave to pick up the prescription. As a result, the patient was without pain medication from Friday afternoon until Monday. He tried to control his pain with over the counter analgesics, but the medicine wasn’t strong enough: his father-in-law suffered until Monday when the prescription was picked up and refilled.

As upsetting as that story is, it’s not unique. But EPCS makes these types of situations obsolete. With EPCS, authorizing new prescriptions and renewals has become as easy as clicking through a few e-prescribing screens to make sure a script is correctly, safely, and securely processed.

Benefits of EPCS:

E-prescribing of controlled substances offers all the benefits of e-prescribing and more. The safeguards required for controlled substances are paired with software that allows you to pull a robust medication history for the patient and then check against current and past medications for drug/drug and drug/allergy interactions. EPCS software also helps doctors identify and prevent “doctor shopping” by those addicted to prescription drugs.

Security is Key:

In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in prescription drug misuse or abuse. This increase has led to a corresponding increase in ER visits because of accidental overdoses as well as admissions to drug treatment programs for drug addictions.

Because of the safeguards necessary to avoid duplication of care and abuse of prescription medications, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has demanded extra security measures for e-prescribing of controlled substances. Doctors must be able to prove their identities at the point of prescribing and software vendors must assure their applications have appropriate controls and will pass third party audits. Pharmacies must ensure that the prescription is valid.

In 2010, the DEA gave approval for doctors to submit prescriptions for controlled substances to pharmacies electronically. DrFirst was first on the market with anEPCS GoldSM 2.0. This stand-alone system is DEA compliant and utilizes the Surescripts network to allow physicians to transmit prescriptions for controlled substances directly to participating pharmacies. Other vendors followed. Today 38 states as well as the District of Columbia have legalized electronically prescribed controlled substances

Getting Started with EPCS:

Controlled substances account for 20 percentof all prescriptions. And e-prescribing of controlled substances offers you and your patients another important safeguard in the use of controlled substances.

If you’d like to learn more about getting started with e-prescribing for your practice, click on this link.

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About the Author

Irene Froehlich

Ms. Froehlich has been with DrFirst since its inception in 2000. In her role as Director of Marketing, she oversees the planning, directing, and coordinating all marketing and public relations efforts at DrFirst. Ms. Froehlich has a B.S. in Communications from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

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