EPCS Regulations and Mandatory States

The country’s opioid abuse has been a hot topic of late. From the misuse and abuse of opioid prescriptions and the forging of such prescriptions, states are mandating the use of electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS).  

This has even gained momentum amongst the private industry in an effort to keep patients from “shopping” for doctors and putting a halt to the overprescribing of opioids. It has also led to providers needing access to their state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) before prescribing a scheduled drug.  

Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances Regulations

The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, signed into federal law in October of 2018, includes an electronic prescribing requirement for all controlled substance prescriptions under Medicare part D drugs. The deadline to comply to the bill, implemented to address the opioid abuse epidemic, is January 1, 2021.  

Through EPCS, providers can easily prescribe Schedule II-V controlled substances and non-controlled prescriptions. This simplified workflow will ultimately lead to improved patient safety and reduce opioid prescription abuse and misuse.  

Mandatory States

Following the federal mandate, many states have put forth legislations with similar laws. New York, for example, was the first state to mandate EPCS back in 2016. Today, 21 states have an EPCS mandate in place. An additional 17 states have future effective dates and 5 have proposed EPCS legislations. 

Upcoming state mandate deadlines include: 

The EPCSGold website provides a complete look of EPCS and PDMP mandated states with the help of an interactive map. 

Walmart’s Push for EPCS

As an even bigger incentive for providers to implement EPCS mandates, the private sector is joining the fight. Beginning January 1, 2020, Walmart and Sam’s Club, one of the nation’s largest pharmacy chains, will require EPCS in all its locations. This means that patients who frequent Walmart pharmacies will require their healthcare organization to have an EPCS solution before this time.  

Walmart’s Opioid Stewardship Initiative aims to: 

  • Reduce the number of opioids dispensed 
  • Provide education to customers and youth 
  • Help reduce risk of death by overdose 
  • Advocate for state and national policies aimed at curbing abuse and misuse 

Through the implementation of policies and provision of tools, Walmart wants to help pharmacists identify fraudulent or inappropriate opioid prescriptions.  

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

Going beyond EPCS, states are now mandating healthcare providers to review their patients’ PDMP record before writing a prescription or dispensing controlled substances. This allows prescribers a better view of their patient’s medication list and diminishes the risk of overprescribing and opioid misuse.  

If you are a provider with authorization to prescribe controlled substances or a licensed pharmacist dispensing such medication, you can register on your state’s government website for PDMP access. The statewide electronic databases show a patient’s medication and dispensing history.  

Healthcare organizations are strongly encouraged to implement EPCS as soon as possible. It will allow you to stay ahead of the curve and retain patients who frequent pharmacies that now require them.  

Some EHRs now have EPCS and PDMP checks within their EHR workflow to help providers save time, meet state regulations, and provide better care.  

About the Author
Jennifer Morency

Jennifer Morency is the Marketing Manager for Hello Health, the complete Cloud-Based EHR, Practice Management System and Patient Portal, that helps practices be more efficient and increase patient engagement.

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