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.