In our last blog on Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) from July 3, 2012, we reviewed the status of EPCS and concluded that the ecosystem for EPCS was not yet mature enough for the average provider. Over three years have since passed and times have changed.

The Ecosystem is Maturing

In mid-2012, a mere 10 percent of the nation’s pharmacies participated in EPCS and some states had still had not completed regulatory approval of EPCS. Remember, the pharmacy and the EHR must both be EPCS enabled to electronically prescribe controlled drugs.

The ecosystem has definitely matured over the past three years. The graphics below, courtesy of Surescripts, are excellent representations of the current rate of participation of both the pharmacies and state regulatory authorities.

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Provider Adoption Lags

Now that the state regulatory agencies are “on board” and the overwhelming majority of the nation’s pharmacies can accept EPCS type e-prescriptions, providers need to catch up. The graphic below illustrates just how mismatched the percentage of enabled pharmacies and providers is when it comes to EPCS.

EPCS Provider Enablement by State

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This disparity between pharmacy and provider acceptance is partially due to poor EHR adoption and reluctance of some in the provider community to upgrade to the new technology. Some providers are reluctant to upgrade to EPCS because they believe the extra steps involved in sending an EPCS type of script are “too much of a hassle.” We believe that advances in EPCS prescribing technology now make e-prescribing more efficient than printing controlled substance prescriptions. The ecosystem is finally ready and so is the technology. Now is the time for providers to adopt.

In our next blog we will discuss the DEA EPCS rule and how the typical controlled substance prescription is created and transmitted.