Mass lawmakers embrace electronic prescribing of controlled substances

Aug 08, 2018

Massachusetts lawmakers recently passed legislation that requires providers and pharmacies to switch to electronic prescribing of opioid medication by 2020, further validating the significant role technology can play in combatting our national prescription drug abuse epidemic.

Passed by the Mass. state House of Representatives, the bill represents the latest legislative push to create a more secure opioid distribution chain by requiring that prescriptions for controlled substances be completed electronically.

The technology solutions proposed in the Mass. legislation – specifically, instituting the electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS) by 2020 – can help curb opiate abuse by creating accountable and secure practices for those who prescribe and dispense controlled substances. EPCS provides a secure, transparent system that makes it easier to prescribe controlled substances to those patients who legitimately need them, while making it more difficult to commit fraud or abuse.

When passed by the Massachusetts Senate and signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker, Massachusetts will join 10 other states in mandating similar electronic prescribing mandates.

Federal legislation is likewise proceeding. On June 19, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would “require e-prescribing for coverage under part D of the Medicare program of prescription drugs” by January 1, 2020. This federal EPCS requirement would establish a milestone for the role of information technology in combatting prescription drug abuse, particularly the opioid crisis. With more than 40 million people nationwide enrolled in a Medicare part D plan, this federal legislation would require EPCS to be in place at nearly all hospitals and healthcare delivery organizations across the U.S. by the beginning of 2020.

Electronic prescribing of opioids and other controlled substances helps address drug diversion, fraud, and doctor shopping by taking the paper prescription—and the prescriber’s DEA number—out of the hands of the patient. Prescriptions are securely sent directly to the pharmacy, which improves patient safety and prescription security.

While EPCS does help fight opioid abuse, healthcare organizations and prescribers still must meet a number of specific requirements to comply with DEA regulations pertaining to EPCS. These requirements are designed to create a secure, auditable chain of trust through the entire prescribing process. If implemented incorrectly, however, organizations introduce the risk of non-compliance or limited adoption by providers.

As a trusted solutions provider, Imprivata can help organizations understand the EPCS requirements and implement a complete, end-to-end solution that satisfies the DEA regulations while delivering a fast, secure workflow for prescribers.

If you are interested in learning more about how to meet DEA requirements and drive provider adoption for EPCS, Imprivata can help. We are hosting a live webinar on this topic on Tuesday, August 14 at 2:00 pm ET.

This webinar discusses the impact of the national and state EPCS bills/laws, as well as why understanding DEA requirements is essential to ensuring a fully compliant EPCS process.

Attendees of this webinar will learn:

  • The benefits of moving to EPCS
  • The full DEA requirements
  • Common misconceptions about EPCS and how to avoid them
  • Considerations when selecting a solution, particularly around two-factor authentication
  • Measurable results other organizations have achieved through successful EPCS implementations

Please join us by clicking here and signing up today.