July 02, 2018

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

If you need a role model for leveraging technology in response to the opioid crisis, look no further than Maine.

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.

Maine State Senator Andre Cushing co-chairs the state’s Opioid Task Force and sponsored the legislation that requires EPCS. We asked him about Maine’s success in driving EPCS adoption among providers. This is what Sen. Cushing had to say:

“Opioid abuse, what we’re now calling substance use disorder, is impacting Maine’s workforce, our neighbors, our friends. The electronic prescribing of opioids is a tool we can use to confront the epidemic. It creates for providers a tool they can use to have a conversation with a patient who may be at risk for abuse. In addition, the technology helps to create a more robust picture of a patient’s use of opioids, and also helps to identify doctors who may be more lenient or more apt to prescribe opioids to patients who have a problem.”

Like Maine, a growing number of states are mandating e-prescribing in general or some form of EPCS. Nationwide pharmacy enablement for EPCS hit 91.4% in May 2018, while prescriber enablement hit 26.2%. In comparison, pharmacy enablement in Maine is 98.3% and prescriber enablement is 56.9%. The trend toward greater prescriber enablement strongly suggests that legislation (like that in Maine and New York) can help drive greater adoption and arm healthcare professionals with the tools needed to combat opioid abuse.

But how does EPCS help to address the opioid crisis?

It allows for opiate prescriptions to be tracked and securely delivered to pharmacies. The electronic nature of the prescription helps increase patient safety and medication adherence while impeding the fraud and abuse that more easily happens with traditional paper or oral prescriptions.

E-Prescribing can be an effective tactic, but it will take an extraordinary degree of creativity—and perhaps trial and error—to solve the opioid crisis. EPCS alone isn’t likely the answer. Other tools, like Record Locator & Exchange, can help prescribers identify care patterns that might suggest opioid abuse, and Medication History gives prescribers a window into their patients’ past prescriptions, including opioids.

To learn more about how health information technologies can help combat the opioid crisis, visit our website. Start with our page on Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances, which includes an interactive policy map with a state-by-state breakdown of EPCS enablement. And for a look at the impact of e-prescribing mandates and prescriber enablement, check out our article about the power and promise of EPCS legislation


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...

June 20, 2018

Surescripts Supports Healthcare Leadership Council’s “Roadmap for Action” to Address Opioid Crisis

Today, Surescripts joined more than 70 healthcare organizations in supporting the Healthcare Leadership Council’s “Roadmap for Action” offering guidance for healthcare professionals, lawmakers and regulators to address the opioid crisis. Read more...

May 03, 2018

EPCS Legislation Shows Power and Promise

According to recent research from the IQVIA Institute, the number of opioid prescriptions in the U.S. fell 10.2% in 2017 compared to 2016. At the same time, lawmakers are taking aim at the opioid epidemic by ramping up legislation that mandates Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS). Read more...