Electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS) involves transmitting an electronic prescription for a controlled substance from the prescriber to the pharmacy.
In 2010, when the DEA lifted the restrictions concerning e-prescribe for controlled substances, electronic prescriptions reached a new level of convenience and safety. The decision didn’t just reduce the amount of paperwork but also minimized opportunities for prescription forgery, which was a serious issue with controlled substances.
To keep EPCS under control, the DEA requires prescribers use technology that has been certified to issue such prescriptions. ECPS certification ensures proper writing, signing, and refilling of controlled substance prescriptions.
Today electronic prescribing for controlled substances is legal in all states. Many states require clinics to use EPCS-certified electronic prescribing software. Contact us today to learn how NewCrop’s certified EPCS technology keeps you up-to-date and incompliance in the ever-changing world of EPCS.
What is EPCS Certification?
In order to write, sign, transmit, store, and archive electronic prescriptions for controlled substances, prescribers need to use a certified electronic prescribing technology.
According to the DEA, to receive an EPCS certification, the software must be audited to comply with the requirements of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 1311. The DEA allows the certification to be completed in two ways:
- A third-party audit conducted by a specialist who is qualified to perform SysTrust, SAS70, or WebTrust audits. Such an audit can also be performed by a Certified Information System Auditor (as mentioned in 21 CFR 1311.300(b)).
- A certification performed by a certified organization. Its certification process must be approved by the DEA. The list of such organizations is available on the DEA website. The agency amends it when new organizations become certified.
The key goal of an EPCS certification is to check the software’s integrity. The program must be secure enough to withstand inside threats, outside attacks, and cyber breaches. The software vendor must prove that the program has top-notch protection against a variety of security issues. Besides cybersecurity, the physical security of the app is also an important certification factor.
Prescribers, pharmacists, and EHR vendors must arrange EPCS certification for their electronic prescription applications and renew it every two years to maintain the ability to write e-prescriptions for controlled substances.
Why You Need EPCS-Certified Software
With electronic prescribing for controlled substances legal in all states, more and more providers and EHR vendors are taking advantage of e-prescribe technology. If you are still contemplating whether to integrate this functionality into your e-prescribe process, consider the following factors.
1. Increased Productivity
If you are already actively using e-prescribe for non-controlled substances, writing traditional prescriptions for controlled substances is slowing you down. Traditional prescriptions tend to generate a variety of errors, which need to be resolved over the phone, stealing time from both prescribers and pharmacists.
While e-prescribe comes with its own set of errors, they are much less common than mistakes prescribers make when writing and pharmacists make when reading handwriting. Meanwhile, access to real-time data and time-saving opportunities has a positive effect on the clinic’s return on investment.
2. Getting Ready for the Future
In the nearest future, EPCS-certification is likely to become mandatory in all states, thus eliminating traditional prescription writing for the majority of providers.
By diving deeper into certification and software requirements for EPCS today, you can avoid the rush and confusion associated with large-scale implementation in the future.
3. Simplified Monitoring
With EPCS-certified software, the prescriber can track the number of controlled substance prescriptions received by the patient. This can minimize the opportunities for over-prescribing and doctor shopping.
EPCS makes it easier for the state to follow patient data across various pharmacies. Many states implement a PDMP (a prescription drug monitoring program). In these states, a prescriber needs to check the PDMP registry when writing a prescription for Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances.
4. Data Security
EPCS certification doesn’t just allow you to use e-prescribe for controlled substances, thus minimizing errors and patient-doctor contacts. It ensures solid security, increasing the safety of patients’ records and preventing legal issues for the clinic.
In the COVID-19 era, the number of cybersecurity issues is on the rise. When transmitting something as sensitive as a controlled substance prescription, you shouldn’t have to worry about data safety and fraud possibilities.
5. Patient Satisfaction
EPCS-certified software allows prescribers to see in real-time how much a patient’s insurance plan may pay for a certain medication. Depending on the plan, the program may display alternatives with a lower cost, thus improving patient satisfaction.
For a patient, this real-time information can make a difference between filling and not filling the prescription, thus keeping them on the right track to recovery.
6. Patient Safety
When it comes to controlled substances, traditional prescription errors may be dangerous for the patient. By implementing EPCS-certified software, you can have full access to secure a patient’s medical history, thus keeping the chances of making an error low.
It’s imperative to understand that even though EPCS certification is a complex process, it’s not time-consuming. By implementing EPCS-certified e-prescribe software into your EHR, you can save a substantial amount of time without worrying about the clinic, patient, and information security.
A Look into the Future of EPCS Certification
It’s worth noting that even though e-prescription for control substances has been around for over a decade, its implementation is still lacking. Only about 38% of prescriptions for controlled substances were created electronically compared to 80% of non-controlled substances.
Starting January 1, 2021, all providers in the United Sates must take advantage of electronic prescribing software when writing prescriptions for controlled substances for Medicare patients. The new mandate is likely to boost the demand for EPCS certifications.
Additionally, the upcoming changes to the SUPPORT Act can make electronic prescriptions for controlled substances an integral part of simplifying the patients’ detoxification treatment.
It’s imperative to stay up to date with the latest e-prescribing options, requirements, and certification opportunities.
NewCrop offers an EPCS-certified integrated software solution. It’s an excellent option for EHR vendors who want to provide EPCS functionality to their clients. For more information, please contact us to schedule a live in-depth demo.