EPCS: Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances

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What is EPCS?

Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) provides prescribers the ability to write prescriptions for controlled substances electronically, completely eliminating paper prescriptions. These e-prescriptions are then sent to pharmacies to manage.

Not only is electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) legal in all 50 states, but one by one, states are following New York’s lead and mandating this as the only way to prescribe Schedule II-V drugs. Recently, legislation was introduced at the federal level that, if passed, would require EPCS for controlled substances under Medicare Part D effective 2020.

New York State’s I-STOP program (Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing), mandates that all prescriptions—including those for controlled substances—be electronically transmitted to pharmacies as of March 27, 2016. Pharmacies in New York no longer fill prescriptions that are printed, phoned-in, or faxed.

These actions are being taken in response to the widely-recognized national problem of opioid abuse and addiction. Electronic prescribing, particularly when combined with PDMP access, is an effective way to curb inappropriate access to controlled substances that can occur via doctor shopping, pharmacy shopping, and fraudulent prescriptions. It also assists the prescriber by making medication history data, drug-drug/drug-allergy alerts, and formulary information available in real time.

Security Measures

Due to the nature of controlled substances, additional security measures are required for the electronic prescribing of these medications:

  • Physicians must validate their identity (and prescribing authority) by dual-factor authentication. A combination of 2 of the following 3 is required:
    • something you know, e.g., a password;
    • something you have, e.g., a token; or
    • something you are, e.g., biometrics such as fingerprint, iris scan, or voice.
  • Prescribing software must be certified for EPCS.
  • Pharmacy software must also be certified to accept electronic prescriptions for controlled substances. Over 80% of pharmacies nationwide are now so enabled.

HCIT Improves EPCS Effectiveness

EPCS is a feature offered by most, if not all, EHRs, so that the process can be incorporated into your workflow.

This effective tool:

  • improves patient care and outcomes,
  • saves times and eliminates phone calls and inaccuracies,
  • and ensures compliance.

SRS is taking EPCS to the next level by being the first specialty-specific vendor to offer PDMP checking integrated within the prescribing workflow at the point of care.

Learn About Our Integrated Solution