Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) on iPad Tablet by Pharmacist

How EPCS Impacts SureScripts®

The Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) was proposed by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as a way for medical practitioners to write electronic prescriptions (eRx) for narcotics and other controlled substances. The EPCS regulation also permits pharmacies to fill and dispense the controlled substances after receiving a qualified practitioner’s eRx. e-Prescribing is intended to reduce paperwork and costs for prescribers and pharmacists, as well as reduce prescription forgery and fraud, while integrating the prescription information into electronic health records (EHRs). Although the DEA legislated a solution for the electronic prescribing of controlled substances in 2010, the requirements in that rule are extensive, and therefore require an infrastructure that was not in place when the rule was passed into law. This new infrastructure impacts SureScripts®, the practitioner, and all of the retail pharmacies. In the next several months, that infrastructure may be ready for those providers who are highly motivated to prescribe controlled substances electronically.

Prior to electronically prescribing any controlled substances, practitioners must have two forms of identity verification credentials from the following three categories:

  1. Something You Know: A unique password or question response known only to the practitioner e-prescribing
  2. Something You Are: Unique biometric data – A fingerprint or iris scan, or other unique physical information
  3. Something You Have: A physical object, such as a key or hard token (Public-key Infrastructure [PKI], Cryptokey, or One-time Password Generator, like a smartphone application or unique SMS) – Most providers will use an application on their smartphone.

In addition, specific security measures must also be taken; such as two individuals, the e-prescribing practitioner who must be a DEA registrant and identity proofed by a third party (not the EHR vendor) and another individual (staff member or practitioner), must authorize every controlled substance that is e-prescribed. Not to mention intermediaries, like Surescripts, are also required to jump through the DEA’s hoops, and must be able to communicate directly with the e-prescribing practitioner and the pharmacy, further lengthening the eRx process.

While the DEA approved EPCS two years ago, few practitioners who already e-prescribe are able to take advantage of the new law due to the many hurdles and lack of EPCS-ready pharmacies. At present, only 10% of pharmacies nationwide are capable of handling EPCS. At HealthFusion, we believe most practitioners will forgo the electronic prescribing of controlled substances until at least 50% of the pharmacies nationwide are capable of handling the scripts.

MediTouch® has been prepared for EPCS, and we will make it available to our users once we begin to see better pharmacy compliance, which we expect hopefully by year’s end. So be sure your EHR is built for the future of medicine and e-prescribing; be sure with MediTouch EHR®.

Read a more current update on the nationwide state of EPCS here.