Just one month after a law in New York state went into effect mandating the electronic prescribing of all controlled and non-scheduled drugs, Maine Gov. Paul R. LePage signed into a law a bill that requires the electronic prescribing of controlled substances for opioids in his state.
The bill, introduced by the Governor, mandates prescriber participation in the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), sets limits for the strength and duration of opioid prescriptions and requires that prescribers submit opioid prescriptions electronically beginning next year and that they undergo addiction training every two years.
The electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) eliminates paper prescriptions and adds a layer of security and validation to prescriptions, including greater scrutiny when it comes to the authentication of a prescriber through rigorous identity proofing. By adopting the technology, providers and pharmacists can arm themselves with the tools needed to prescribe and dispense appropriate medications and, at the same time, decrease prescription fraud and abuse.
In order to activate their systems and comply with the new law, LD1646, providers generally must update their software, conduct identity proofing, enable two-factor authentication, and set access controls. In 2015, Maine ranked 32nd for EPCS enablement, based on the percentage of pharmacies (88 percent) and prescribers (1 percent) in the state who were ready to utilize the technology, as well as the volume of controlled substance prescriptions being processed electronically (1 percent).
“Collaborative communication between pharmacists, doctors and the technology companies that serve them will make a difference in the adoption of EPCS and more importantly help curtail the prescription drug abuse epidemic,” said Paul Uhrig, executive vice president chief administrative, legal and privacy officer, Surescripts. “More work is needed on the part of providers in Maine, but the good news is that the electronic health records (EHR) software systems used by 85 percent of prescribers in Maine are already certified and capable of offering EPCS functionality today.”
Outside of New York and Maine, other states, such as Minnesota, have similar e-prescribing mandates, but its Department of Health says there is currently no enforcement for non-compliance.