In the United States, prescription opioids are involved in more overdose deaths than any other type of drug. To combat this epidemic, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) implemented a new system for tracking prescriptions of controlled substances, called Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS).

EPCS is designed to make it more difficult for patients to “doctor shop” for opioids and reduce the likelihood of prescribing errors. Under the EPCS system, prescriptions must be electronically transmitted from the prescriber to the pharmacy and can only be filled at a licensed pharmacy. In addition, pharmacies must verify the identity of patients before dispensing controlled substances. By making it harder for patients to obtain opioids and ensuring that prescriptions are filled correctly, EPCS hopes to help reduce overdose deaths in the United States.

While many states already had EPCS requirements in effect, a federal mandate was slated for 2020. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) noted that the COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread disruptions to usual care routines and made it difficult for some prescribers to implement EPCS. In response to feedback from stakeholders, CMS announced another delay, this time until January 1, 2023.

What Are the Benefits of EPCS?

EPCS can provide many benefits for practitioners, such as:

1.  Allowing More Time with Patients

EPCS can help practitioners to improve patient care by allowing them to spend more time with their patients. By prescribing medications electronically, practitioners can save time on paperwork and administrative tasks, which can be used to provide more direct patient care.

2.  Reducing Medication Errors

EPCS can also help to reduce medication errors. Prescribing medications electronically can help to ensure that the correct medication is prescribed for the correct patient, as well as the correct dosage.

3.  Improving Patient Safety

EPCS can also improve patient safety by reducing the risk of medication errors and improving the accuracy of prescriptions. In addition, EPCS can help practitioners track their patients’ medication use, allowing for early detection of any potential problems.

4.  Enhancing Communication between Providers

EPCS can also enhance communication between providers by allowing practitioners to share prescription information electronically with other care team members. This can help ensure everyone is on the same page regarding a patient’s medications and can help avoid potential conflicts or mistakes.

5.  Increasing Efficiency

Finally, EPCS can help practitioners improve patient care by increasing efficiency. By streamlining the prescription process and reducing paperwork, EPCS can help practitioners to save time and see more patients in a day.


Therapy Brands can help you get started with our EPCS-certified software.


What Are the Requirements for EPCS Compliance?

Compliance with EPCS is essential for all providers who prescribe controlled substances. The DEA has established the following requirements for EPCS:

Prescriber Enrollment

All providers who wish to prescribe controlled substances electronically must first complete a one-time enrollment process with the DEA. Enrollment is simple and can be done entirely online. After creating an account on the DEA website, providers will need to enter their basic contact information and DEA registration number. They will also be asked to submit a photo and copy of their government-issued ID. Once the enrollment form is complete, providers will receive an email with instructions on activating their accounts. Once activated, providers can begin prescribing controlled substances electronically.

EPCS-Certified Systems

To prescribe controlled substances electronically, providers must use an EPCS-certified system. EPCS-certified systems meet a set of DEA-mandated requirements surrounding security and functionality. Providers who use EPCS-certified systems can be confident that their prescribing complies with federal law and that their patient’s data is secure. In addition, providers who use EPCS-certified systems can take advantage of features designed to streamline the prescribing process, such as electronic prescribing for narcotic medications. As a result, providers who use EPCS-certified systems can improve patient care while reducing the risk of prescription drug abuse.

Two-Factor Authentication

To prescribe controlled substances electronically, providers must use two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is a security measure that requires users to provide two forms of identification before being granted access to a system or data. For EPCS, this typically means that providers must enter both their DEA registration number and password and a one-time code generated by an authentication device. Two-factor authentication helps to ensure that only authorized users can access EPCS-certified systems and that prescriptions cannot be altered or forged.

Secure Messaging

EPCS-certified systems must use secure messaging to transmit prescriptions. Secure messaging is a system that encrypts data in transit, helping to ensure that prescriptions cannot be intercepted and read by unauthorized individuals. To comply with DEA regulations, EPCS-certified systems must use secure messaging to transmit prescriptions from the prescriber to the pharmacy.

Audit Logs

EPCS-certified systems must maintain audit logs of all prescriptions that are transmitted. Audit logs help to ensure that prescriptions are being transmitted correctly and that the system is functioning properly. In addition, audit logs can be used to track errors and investigate the system’s potential misuse.

Reporting

EPCS-certified systems must provide prescribers with reports on their prescribing activity. These reports can help prescribers to identify errors and track their compliance with EPCS requirements. In addition, prescribers can use these reports to monitor their patients’ controlled substance prescriptions for signs of abuse or diversion.

EPCS-certified systems must also provide pharmacies with reports on the prescriptions that they have received. These reports can help pharmacies track their compliance with EPCS requirements and identify errors. In addition, pharmacies can use these reports to monitor their patients’-controlled substance prescriptions for signs of abuse or diversion.

How Can You Ensure Your Practice Complies with EPCS?

The federal EPCS compliance date is quickly approaching for many providers. Beginning January 1, 2023, all providers prescribing controlled substances must do so electronically. This includes both Schedule II and Schedule III drugs. There are a few things that providers can do to ensure that their practice is compliant with EPCS:

Use an EPCS-Certified EHR System

Therapy Brands has great options if you’re looking for a certified EHR system that can help you streamline your workflow and improve patient care. Our EPCS-certified software, NewCrop, is designed to help therapists manage their practices more efficiently while providing better patient care. Our easy-to-use interface and comprehensive features make it easy to keep track of patient progress, schedule appointments, and document treatments. And because our system is web-based, you can access it from anywhere, anytime.

Get Trained on EPCS Procedures

If you’re unfamiliar with the new EPCS requirements, getting up to speed as soon as possible is important. The DEA has provided a grace period for providers to train on the new procedures, but this period will end on January 1, 2023. Many EHR vendors offer training on using their EPCS-certified software.

Work With an EPCS-Certified Pharmacy

If you’re unsure about whether a pharmacy is EPCS-certified, you can check the DEA’s list of certified pharmacies. It’s important to note that not all pharmacies are required to be EPCS-certified. However, if you’re prescribing controlled substances electronically, you can only do so through an EPCS-certified pharmacy.

The Bottom Line

EPCS compliance is a complex process, but it’s important to ensure that your practice is compliant with the new requirements. Therapy Brands can help you get started with our EPCS-certified software. And be sure to check our resources for more tips on compliance and running a successful therapy practice.