Similar to the critical yet complex path to industry interoperability, the electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) still has a ways to go before reaching its full potential. However, today Vermont becomes the final state to legalize EPCS for all schedules of controlled drugs. With EPCS now legal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, this is a milestone that deserves to be recognized and celebrated.
Over the past five years since the federal Drug Enforcement Administration adopted rules to permit EPCS, state level EPCS rule adoption has had its challenges. But now providers and pharmacies across the country who have adopted EPCS will have the ability to prescribe controlled substances through the Surescripts e-prescribing platform. This will only continue to improve patient safety by decreasing prescription fraud and abuse, both necessary components for a nationwide impact on population health.
The progress of EPCS is linked closely with states’ efforts to help curb the prescription drug abuse epidemic plaguing our nation. In 2014 alone, there were more deaths from prescription drug abuse than cocaine and heroin combined. In addition, prescription drug overdose deaths outnumber deaths by gunshot wounds or car crashes. Rightfully so, EPCS is now receiving the attention and recognition it deserves as a necessary step to combating drug diversion and improving quality throughout the system.
From 2013 to 2014, EPCS transactions grew by 400 percent and show no sign of stopping there, with the industry expecting substantial growth this year as well. Within the first few months of 2015, EPCS transaction volume exceeded all of last year’s transactions by over 25 percent. While statistics have shown that provider adoption is still low, sitting at a mere four percent versus pharmacies, which are at 80 percent enablement, it is good to remember that basic e-prescribing also took many years to be adopted. The industry worked hard to make e-prescribing the norm, and the same will be true for EPCS. Prescribers can visit www.GETEPCS.com to learn more about the steps needed to utilize the technology, which really aren’t that difficult.
EPCS is paving the road for a safer healthcare system, and as a result, the industry is changing for the better. Which states were the earliest – and latest – to legalize EPCS? Please see below for our virtual progression timeline!