Support: 866.543.6646
Sales: 855.489.1792

Blog

Upcoming EPCS Mandates and Changes: What You Need to Know

Electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS) has gained popularity in recent months as a way to better track opioid use and reduce fraud and misuse. Many states have already implemented their own EPCS mandates, but the federal government and even private companies also have gotten involved.

Federal Legislation and Requirements for EPCS

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) gave providers permission to use EPCS in 2010, along with a set of standards for the EPCS systems that providers, pharmacies, and health IT vendors use. To be DEA compliant, an EPCS system must include:

Certification of the EHR/e-prescribing application
Identity proofing to confirm that a provider is authorized to prescribe controlled substances
Two-step logical access control to provide EPCS permissions to approved prescribers
Two-factor authentication for providers who sign an EPCS prescription
Comprehensive and detailed reporting to demonstrate compliance and to identify auditable events and security incidents

In October 2017, President Trump declared the opioid addiction epidemic a Nationwide Public Health Emergency. One year later, he signed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. This 250-page law includes multiple initiatives intended to address opioid misuse and addiction, and requires EPCS for all controlled substances under Medicare Part D by January 1, 2021.

Individual State EPCS Mandates

Due to the effectiveness of EPCS in curbing fraud, many individual states passed their own mandates. New York first mandated EPCS in 2016, with others quickly following.
Pennsylvania’s deadline for moving to EPCS is October 24, 2019. Arizona, Iowa, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island all have mandates that will take effect January 1, 2020.

In September 2018, California passed a law that requires electronic prescribing for all medications—not just controlled substances. This law is scheduled to take effect January 1, 2022.

In many states, EPCS mandates are designed to work in conjunction with prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). Under these programs, pharmacies submit information on the controlled prescriptions they dispense. These programs help identify patients who may exhibit drug-seeking behavior, and provide data on controlled medication use.

Pharmacy and Private Company EPCS Requirements

Pharmacies and other organizations also have implemented private mandates regarding EPCS. For example, Walmart pharmacies will no longer accept paper prescriptions for controlled substances after January 1, 2020. This is part of the company’s Opioid Stewardship Initiative to curb opioid misuse.

This year, the McKesson Corporation, a U.S. pharmaceutical distributor, will stop selling opioids to customers who cannot accept EPCS. To help with this change, the company has announced an intention to work with customers that have yet to make the transition to e-prescribing.

Health IT solutions developer DrFirst, which provides software used in BestNotes EHR, has updated its e-medication management platform. The company will discontinue its Rcopia3 software on January 1, 2020, and is requiring all users to move to Rcopia4. Available since 2016, Rcopia4 offers new features, including a unified integrated workflow experience for writing narcotic prescriptions and checking PDMPs.

Using EPCS with your EHR

Don’t get left behind in the changing regulatory environment. Make sure your EHR system allows for e-prescribing so you can continue to offer appropriate, high-quality care for your behavioral health patients while remaining compliant with state, federal, and private mandates.

BestNotes EHR and CRM solutions are tailored specifically for mental health and addiction treatment providers, with e-prescribing and other medication management options. Contact us today to learn more.

date:  Jul 09, 2019
Read More

Texas Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment News Roundup: Summer 2019

While Texas boasts opioid overdose rates below the national average, the Lone Star State has not been completely free of addiction and other behavioral health concerns. Here are a few of the behavioral health news stories making the rounds in Texas. Texas launches GetWaiveredTX to help expand buprenorphine use A group of health care providers, […]

date:  Jul 02, 2019 comments:  Comments Off on Texas Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment News Roundup: Summer 2019
by:  Nicole Hovey category:  Blog Read More

What is EPCS and What Should You Know About It?

Providers, government agencies, researchers, and other stakeholders continue to seek ways to reduce the nation’s opioid epidemic. In recent months, electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS) has gained more attention as a potential tool.

What is EPCS?

Many physical and behavioral health providers participate in electronic prescribing of medications, also known as e-prescriptions or e-prescribing. This way, the patient does not have to carry a paper prescription from their provider to the pharmacy.

With e-prescribing, providers enter a prescription into their electronic health record (EHR) or other system and send a request to the pharmacy. The pharmacist receives the prescriber’s instructions, fills the prescription, and notifies the patient.

According to the U.S. Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the proportion of physicians who used an EHR for e-prescribing increased from 7 percent in December 2008 to 70 percent in April 2014. The office also reports that, in April 2014, every state had at least 90 percent of community pharmacies enabled to accept e-prescriptions.

How does EPCS help the opioid crisis?

Paper prescriptions are easier to forge, steal, or sell. This has allowed addicted individuals to obtain more opioids, even against their doctor’s recommendations. EPCS can significantly reduce prescription fraud and errors, since it bypasses the patient and allows the prescriber to directly communicate with the pharmacy.

The use of e-prescribing also helps track and record prescriptions in real time. This helps reduce “doctor shopping,” in which an individual visits multiple providers to obtain numerous prescriptions in a short amount of time.

With EPCS, The provider’s orders automatically go into the EHR, making them accessible to the pharmacy and payers almost immediately. This removes the need for pharmacy benefit managers to manually enter prescription information. Providers and pharmacies are able to access this information to identify behaviors that may indicate addiction or opioid misuse.

What are other electronic prescribing benefits?

Besides reducing misuse of controlled substances, e-prescribing offers numerous other benefits for patients, providers, and payers. These include:

Reduced prescription drug errors
Requires prescribers to provide dose, route, strength, and frequency, reducing confusion and providing automated support
Helps clinicians track medication history and alerts them to potential drug interactions
Helps providers meet meaningful use requirements
Makes staff more efficient by reducing their need to manage refills
Speeds up insurance verification for prescription coverage

Using EPCS with your EHR

Many EHR solutions include e-prescribing and EPCS capabilities. If your behavioral health or addiction treatment practice is looking to implement or switch to a new EHR, your new solution choice should offer a variety of options related to e-prescribing.

For example, BestNotes EHR solutions offer several EPCS features:

Electronic medication administration record (eMAR) that provides a permanent, legal record of the drugs administered to your patients, which helps you track a patient’s medication history and remain compliant

EPrescribing through DrFirst, which notifies users of medication allergies and other conflicts with the medication prescribed

Identity verification for prescribers of controlled substances to help reduce fraud

Don’t get left behind in the changing prescribing environment. Make sure your EHR system allows you to continue offering appropriate, high-quality care for your behavioral health patients.

BestNotes EHR and CRM solutions are tailored specifically for mental health and addiction treatment providers, with e-prescribing and other medication management options. Contact us today to learn more.

date:  Jun 26, 2019
Read More

Telepsychiatry Shown to Help Close Behavioral Health Treatment Gaps in Rural Areas

Across the United States, many communities have limited access to quality behavioral healthcare, even as demand rises. The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) found that demand for addiction counselors alone may increase anywhere between 21 to 38 percent by 2030, creating a shortage of these professionals.

As mental health awareness grows and the opioid addiction crisis continues, providers and payers are seeking ways to help close care gaps. Telepsychiatry could help many patients gain access to behavioral health resources.

Rural behavioral health needs

While most Americans experience a mental health need at some point, rural communities often lack sufficient mental healthcare.

Sixty-five percent of non-metropolitan U.S. counties do not have a psychiatrist, and 47 percent do not have a psychologist, researchers report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The same study found that the average supply of psychologists in non-metropolitan counties was less than half the supply of metropolitan counties.

Experts point out that a lack of access to mental and behavioral healthcare could worsen public health issues like drug addiction and suicide. The shortage of providers often means that people avoid getting treatment for behavioral or mental healthcare until it is an emergency or crisis situation. This can drive up healthcare costs and reduce quality of life.

What new research shows

Telepsychiatry could be a vital resource for individuals in rural and other underserved areas. Researchers with Genoa Healthcare and Relias found that patients receive more timely care and had more regular psychiatric appointments when telepsychiatry was combined with in-person visits.

The study included 242 Medicaid patients in rural Missouri who received care for severe mental illness. Patients with telepsychiatry access were seen 7 days sooner and were 34 percent more likely to have regular follow-up visits compared to patients who only received in-person care. These findings appear in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Rural Mental Health.

What does other research show?

New research data support previous findings that behavioral telehealth can help close care gaps. Several communities are now taking advantage of these benefits.

To help address shortages of mental healthcare in the state, the University of North Dakota’s medical school now trains psychiatry residents in treating rural patients remotely.

The Board of McLean County, Illinois, voted in 2018 to approve an agreement with a telepsychiatry company to provide treatment for behavioral health referrals. This may help close treatment gaps after the county’s Center for Human Services stopped accepting new clients for psychiatric treatment.

Dr. Yilmaz Yildirim of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, conducted a 32-month study that compared the number of adult and child evaluations and follow-ups between face-to-face and telepsychiatry services. Among patients in rural counties in eastern North Carolina, there was no significant differences between those who made in-person or remote visits. Both patients and clinicians were satisfied with remote visits.

Pair telepsychiatry with EHR

Getting started with remote behavioral health or addiction treatment? Make sure you use your telehealth solution with a tailored behavioral health EHR. BestNotes EHR was developed specifically to help behavioral health and addiction treatment practices stay streamlined and cost-effective.

Contact us today to learn more about how BestNotes EHR can help you improve care, track patient outcomes, and increase practice revenue.

date:  Jun 19, 2019
Read More

How Telehealth Can Make a Difference for Addiction Treatment

Opioid misuse, alcoholism, and other forms of substance use disorder (SUD) continue to impact communities across the country. Telehealth and remote monitoring have become credible options for addiction treatment, especially for individuals in underserved locations.

Current Addiction Treatment Needs

Addiction treatment is facing many challenges across the United States, including:
Healthcare worker shortages throughout the nation
Tight regulatory controls that may limit treatment options
High rates of SUD in rural locations, worsened by factors like poverty and isolation
Hesitancy among existing providers to receive training to provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
Lack of convenient behavioral health resources, such as residential treatment centers and methadone clinics

Remote addiction treatment, provided through telehealth and other online options, could help close some of these treatment gaps.

What Science Says About Remote Addiction Treatment

Several studies have validated the use of remote, digital options for addiction treatment.
Research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry noted that online and mobile applications provide more information and services to patience, which can enhance treatment by giving clinicians access to real-time patient data.

Some research suggests that remote monitoring, such as measuring blood alcohol content, may help encourage abstinence among people struggling with alcohol addiction.

Telehealth is also more likely to succeed when patients are more engaged. One example is the intervention LINKAGE, which uses electronic health records and patient portals to engage patients with SUD and other complex health needs. LINKAGE teaches participants how to use the patient portal and encourages collaborative communication skills.

Researchers studied its effectiveness at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California San Francisco outpatient addiction treatment clinic. Participants assigned to LINKAGE had higher abstinence rates and were more likely to talk to their physician about alcohol and drug problems outside of the treatment program.

Other studies of telehealth in addiction treatment and recovery have found that results for telephone-based addiction services may be superior to traditional continuing care. Patients who use videoconferencing addiction services report equivalent results and satisfaction compared with in-person care. Web-based telehealth services have been found to be comparable and even more effective than traditional addiction treatment.

Future of Remote Addiction Treatment

Providers and regulators continue to debate the validity of telehealth and how to incorporate it into the opioid crisis and other addiction issues. This year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is considering the possibility of allowing addiction treatment medication to be prescribed through videoconferencing. If approved, this could give patients another option for addiction treatment and expand access to highly effective MAT.

While telehealth, telepsychiatry, and other forms of remote addiction treatment could improve treatment access, there are still challenges to be addressed. Providers and other users note that telehealth still requires billing and other time-consuming, administrative tasks. There may also be barriers to implementation of telehealth that could limit its use.

Ideally, telehealth should not be used exclusively, but works best as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program tailored to the individual’s specific needs.

Support Your Telemedicine Practice With Specialized EHR

BestNotes EHR was developed specifically to serve behavioral health and addiction treatment practices. Whether you’ve already invested in a telehealth program, you are just starting the process, or simply considering adding it to your practice, BestNotes can help you stay streamlined and cost-effective.

Contact us today to learn more about how BestNotes EHR can help you improve care, track patient outcomes, and increase practice revenue.

date:  Jun 12, 2019
Read More