The Surescripts Blog

Maine Next in Line to Battle Opioid Abuse with EPCS

By Ken Whittemore, Vice President of Professional and Regulatory Affairs, Surescripts

Opioid abuse is growing by epidemic proportions and no state is immune to its tragic effects—including Maine. In 2016, overdose deaths in the state increased 40% over the previous year.* The good news: Maine is gearing up to fight the epidemic with Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS).

On July 1, 2017, a new law will take effect in Maine that requires e-prescribing for all controlled substances containing opiates. It also limits the durations and quantities of opioid prescriptions and makes other requirements designed to minimize their abuse. When providers use EPCS, they can view comprehensive medication records to better determine if patients are “doctor shopping” or exhibiting other behaviors associated with drug abuse. EPCS also helps avoid prescription fraud or forgery.

With the law’s effective date rapidly approaching, many prescribers are working hard to become EPCS enabled. At the end of 2016, Maine was ranked 25th nationwide in terms of EPCS enablement with only 3.1% of prescribers enabled. This number has more than doubled to 6.8% as of April, 2017, but Maine still has a long way to go. Luckily, more than 99% of the state’s pharmacies are set up for EPCS, and most of the EHRs operating in Maine are already enabled for EPCS.

Maine EPCS enablement through April 30th, 2017

Adopting EPCS does take a bit of work—prescribers must complete identity proofing and credentialing processes—but the benefits of a single workflow for all prescriptions, and the health benefits for patients, are well worth the time and effort. If you’re a provider looking to become EPCS enabled, you can ease the transition by following the step-by-step process described on getEPCS.com. And be sure to visit surescripts.com to learn more about how we’re delivering actionable patient intelligence to improve patient care and safety.

As the fight against opioid abuse continues, EPCS is sure to become an increasingly powerful weapon—and that’s good news for healthcare professionals and patients alike.

*Source: http://www.pressherald.com/2017/02/02/number-of-drug-deaths-in-maine-hit-record-in-2016/ 

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