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2021 Support Act Changes That Will Affect e-Prescribing

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Staying up-to-date on prescribing regulations and keeping compliant can be an arduous task. The team at NewCrop is here to help. Let’s break down the 2021 changes to the Support Act that will affect e-prescribing and your role as an EHR vendor.

In April of 2018, Congress made major amendments to the Support Act. The revised Act requires all US-based health facilities to adopt electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) for all regulated substances covered in Medicare Part D.

The adoption of EPCS seeks to minimize the worrying trend of opioid abuse, drug diversion, and drug fraud. In January 2021, prescription of controlled substances must be transmitted via electronic prescribing software.

Integration of a compliant EPCS will be inevitable in 2021. Noncompliant health care entities will face penalties enforced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Don’t be caught unawares or uncompliant. At NewCrop, we help medical institutions with the seamless integration of EPCS technology via reliable EHR partnerships. To learn more or to schedule a demo to see our EPCS tool in action, contact us today.

Overview of the Support Act

The Support Act constitutes consolidated bills that aim at eradicating opioid abuse. Major stakeholders in the medical industry, medical health centers, and insurance companies are affected by the Act. The most prevalent bill on the Act is the illegal prescribing of opioids and other restricted drugs.

Other medical concerns covered in the Support Act include:

  • Treatment for people suffering from opioid addiction
  • Enrollees in Medicare must undergo opioid screening
  • EPCS for all substances classified in schedule ll-V
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) should cover substance abuse and mental health
  • CMS should educate all Medicare beneficiaries

The Act’s primary aim is to spread awareness of opioid abuse and seek ways to mitigate the negative trend. Patients already struggling with addiction are also encouraged to seek help in approved treatment centers. The Act seeks to eradicate the abusive use of opioids and other regulated substances.

Changes Effective in 2021

So, what does this mean to you? The changes, which will be effective on January 1, 2021, will allow easy access to opioid treatment to US citizens while clamping down on the use of illicit drugs. The required adoption of EPCS will help health systems be more efficient and make this goal achievable. The new system requires the adoption of the following techniques:

  • Identity proofing seeks to recognize the identity of the prescriber of the schedule ll-V drugs. The intelligent software will mitigate the risk of unqualified or quack doctors prescribing highly addictive substances.
  • Digital signature gives the prescription authentication; thus, the patient is eligible for opioid use for pain management. It also prevents unqualified people from giving illegal prescriptions.
  • Two-factor authentication also helps in verifying the credibility of the prescriber. The medical facility will have to adopt biometrics or tokens for correct integration.
  • Regular monitoring by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). On an occasional basis, the DEA will require well-audited reports on the prescription of regulated substances in health facilities. Monitoring of opioid use will be enabled.
Are Support Act Amendments Vital?

The misuse and drug overdose of opioids is increasing exponentially in the US and other parts of the world. There is a rising trend in newborns suffering from devastating opioid withdrawal syndrome due to mothers abusing the drug while pregnant. In 2016, an average of 42,000 people died from the use of high doses of the drug.

The introduction of the Support Act seeks to help heroin or opioid addicts access viable treatment programs. Also, it seeks to offer other pain management alternatives to the patients. Although the Act mainly fixates on the elimination of wrongful prescription of schedule ll-V drugs, it will also enhance efficiency in the health systems in the following ways:

Reduction in Prescription Errors

Prescription errors result in the issuance of wrong medication, leading to the deterioration of underlying conditions. The errors result in spelling errors by the prescriber. In other instances, the handwriting is illegible, leading to many assumptions by medical experts. Adoption of e-prescribe eradicates such errors ensuring correct issuance of drugs.

Reduction of Fraudulent Prescriptions

Prescription forms or pads can be used illegally to obtain certain medications. People can forge prescriptions to obtain regulated substances unlawfully. E-prescribe seeks to eliminate counterfeited prescriptions in the US.

Also, the e-prescribe software is immune to third-part alteration. The digital software is electronically trackable, making it quite safe. Doctors will also be cautious while prescribing controlled substances as their identity will be revealed. The reduction of medical malpractices significantly reduces citizens from accessing heroin or opioid drugs.


E-prescribe allows the electronic storing and retrieval of patients’ medical history. A doctor can monitor the use of drugs on a specific patient. Any suspicious misuse of high regulated substances will be quite easy to trace and report.


Interoperability is a technological advancement that allows seamless exchanging and use of data from one system to another in a healthcare setup. The concept helps in the transfer of crucial patient data. Patient’s data must be stored accurately, and any authorized health care provider should be able to retrieve the data when treating the patient.

Proper Clinical Alerts

A significant number of US citizens have specific drug allergies or react negatively to certain medications. Consequently, another percentage of patients with other underlying conditions interact adversely with specific medications. For instance, hypertensive patients should not be administered decongestant medications.

The e-prescribe systems integrate seamlessly with electronic health records (EHRs) to store and retrieve patients’ past and current medical history. The systems alert the physician of medications they should not assign to a specific patient.

How to Stay Compliant with an e-Prescribe Software 

EPCS is an integral technology tool vital in the reduction of illegal use of schedule ll-V drugs. Integrating the software in all medical facilities will facilitate tracking opioid use while eradicating misuse and fraud in prescriptions.

But, the e-prescribe software that your organization adopts must be DEA-compliant. Incorporation of the right tools as stipulated in the Support Act is crucial in ensuring compliance. The software must have functional authentication tools such as two-factor verification, biometrics, tokens, among others. The software you select must also be compliant with various health insurance portability and accountability act (HIPAA).

When vetting e-prescribe providers, make sure to ask about Support Act compliance and about how the technology’s capability to update in accordance with changing regulations. And don’t forget, this Support Act amendment goes into effect January 1, 2021. Contact us today to schedule a demo of NewCrop today and learn how we can keep you compliant.



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