INTELLIGENCE IN ACTION

Laws Requiring the E-Prescribing of Opioids Have Gained Momentum, but Prescriber Adoption is Playing Catch Up

January 02, 2019

The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which Congress passed and President Trump signed into law in October, mandates the use of electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) for all controlled substances under Medicare Part D by January 1, 2021.

EPCS is a critical tool in the nation's response to the epidemic. It eliminates paper prescriptions, which can be stolen, forged or altered, and gives prescribers electronic access to a patient’s prescription history to help identify potential overuse or abuse. In addition, there are other benefits, including enhanced security, privacy and prescribing flexibility, as well as improved workflow efficiency for prescribers and pharmacists alike.

Policymakers clearly see the need to leverage EPCS in the fight against opioid abuse, as the continued acceleration of EPCS legislation at the state level demonstrates. In 2018, eight more states passed mandates--Arizona, California, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee—bringing the total number of states with EPCS mandates to 15. Of that total, the mandates in Arizona, New Jersey and Pennsylvania become effective in 2019—with Arizona’s beginning the very first day of the new year. New Jersey’s mandate applies to EHR vendors, not prescribers or pharmacists. Michigan and Illinois have now introduced EPCS bills, and industry experts expect nearly twenty more states to pursue similar legislation in 2019.

These mandates have driven an increase in prescriber enablement across the nation. Maine, whose prescriber enablement hovered in the single digits before its law went into effect in July 2017, saw a rate of 69 percent by November 2018.

Still, we have some work to do. While more than 90 percent of non-controlled substances were prescribed electronically nationwide in 2017, just 21 percent of controlled substances were. That’s too low when so many lives are at stake.

However, it’s encouraging to see electronic health record (EHR) vendors taking action to help spur EPCS utilization among prescribers. In the past year, Cerner has seen a nearly 52 percent increase in EPCS transactions across prescribers using their EHR.

Prescribers should visit www.GetEPCS.com to learn how to get started today. And check out our interactive map (updated monthly) to see where each state stands in terms of EPCS enablement for both prescribers and pharmacies, as well as relevant policy developments.

Related Articles

October 24, 2018

Surescripts Applauds New Law to Drive Adoption of Technology to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

Surescripts commends Congress for passing and President Trump for signing H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act into law on October 24, 2018. This law will support the broader adoption of existing technology that can help deter prescription fraud, diversion and abuse. Today marks a major milestone in our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and save lives. Read more...
July 05, 2018

Key Technologies for Fighting Opioid Misuse are Gaining Traction

The statistics are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the opioid epidemic now takes more lives in the U.S. than breast cancer. In addition, American life expectancy at birth declined for the second consecutive year in 2016 due to a dramatic 21 percent rise in the death rate from drug overdoses. Our nation has not experienced a two-year consecutive decline in life expectancy since the early 1960s as a result of an influenza epidemic. Even the worst mortality rate of the AIDS epidemic in 1993 caused American life expectancy to drop for just one year. Read more...
July 02, 2018

Maine Required E-Prescribing for Opioids Last Year—and the Results Are In

This time last year, Maine implemented legislation that requires electronic prescribing for opioids. At the time, Maine ranked 25th in the nation based on prescriber and pharmacist enablement and utilization of the technology, known as E-Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS). Now the state is ranked third in the nation, with virtually all its pharmacies and more than half of all its prescribers enabled for the technology as of May 2018. New York leads the nation, having implemented a legislative requirement in 2016 that requires all prescriptions to be delivered electronically, including controlled substances. Read more...

INTELLIGENCE IN ACTION, DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX