As many practices continue to make the shift towards electronic prescriptions, it is important for providers to recognize why this change is taking place. While ePrescribe is not a new way to deliver medications, as it has been available since 2003, it did not truly gain footing until the healthcare industry saw a widespread increase in interoperability in 2019. Now, let’s dive into the weeds about e-prescribing. What is e-prescribing? What mandates exist and where? As for challenges, what hurdles exist for practices? What benefits does this provide an organization like yours? We have the answers to all of this, and more, below.
What is electronic prescribing?
Electronic prescribing is often referred to as “e-prescribing” or ePrescribe, according to HealthIT.gov. With e-prescribing technology, providers enter prescription information into their device to securely transfer over to the patient’s pharmacy. This utilizes a special software program and connectivity to a transmission network to connect to pharmacies. Once the pharmacy receives the request, they are able to begin fulfilling the necessary medication quickly for your patient to retrieve.
What states are mandating practices ePrescribe prescriptions?
As of now, there is a mandate that will take effect January 1, 2022 that requires all controlled substance prescriptions under Medicare’s Part D drug plan be transmitted electronically per the SUPPORT Act. CMS is currently considering a delay to this mandate, according to DrFirst.com, likely due to the ongoing public health crisis. With this being said, it’s still important for practices to take steps now to transition over to e-prescribing controlled substances, and prescriptions as a whole now.
Currently, there are states already mandating electronic prescription of controlled substances (EPCS), prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP), or both. PDMP allows providers to see what controlled substances a patient is already receiving. This helps to limit the opportunity for drug misuse and doctor shopping. The following states already mandate both PDMP and EPCS…
- Rhode Island
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
While many states have already made mandates for both programs, there are a handful that have not mandated anything yet. Those include Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia also do not currently have mandates for PDMP or EPCS, either.
What challenges exist for physicians and e-prescribing?
One hurdle for many practices remains in the cost for the software associate with e-prescribing. For many of our direct MicroMD clients, who are small, independent practices, they do not see or administer a large amount of prescriptions to justify the cost of ePrescribe. While many practices soon will not have a choice due to mandates in their state, this is a large hurdle for many practices that are already having a hard time balancing their bottom line.
The Academy for Managed Care Pharmacy, or AMCP, provides some other challenges experienced with more widespread use of e-prescribing. Some of the issues discussed on AMCP include the following…
- Usability of Software: Many practices have not dived into fully utilizing an EHR system, if they use one at all. This makes using an e-prescribing software especially daunting and difficult.
- Financial Hardships/Limitations: As stated previously, smaller practices may not write enough prescriptions to justify the money it costs to ePrescribe.
- Workflow Accessibility: Depending on your EHR software, the ease of access to utilize e-prescribing software may make this process more difficult. If it is built directly into your workflow where it makes sense for your provider, a physician is more likely to use it as needed.
Challenges that your office may experience with e-prescribing will be dependent on your practice’s processes. If you have concerns, it is important that you talk it over with your vendor prior to receiving the functionality or service.
What are the benefits for providers of e-prescribing?
There are several main highlights that come to mind, but they all lead back to two things: safety and efficiency. When practices make a shift toward e-prescribing, they eliminate the possibility of prescriptions being misread due to illegible handwriting, prescriptions being lost, or DEA numbers being stolen. The provider is now responsible for delivering the order to the pharmacy directly through their EHR system.
e-Prescribing boosts efficiency at a practice as it is all done directly inside of a system they are already using. Providers do not need to grab a prescription pad. Also, clinicians can quickly and easily check a patient’s medication history/allergy list directly in their encounter before prescribing. This frees provider and staff up from completing other manual tasks they may have had to complete. Utilizing e-prescribing software leads to less phone calls between providers and the pharmacy, more accurate prescriptions dispensed, and safer medication management.
Is your practice currently using e-prescribing software to help streamline tasks at your practice? Did your practice start utilizing this software due to mandates with EPCS or PDMP, or due to wanting to take steps towards safety and efficiency? Let us know in the comments.
MicroMD offers a standalone e-Prescibing solution to help your practice remain safe and boost medication compliance. Coupled with this, we also offer MicroMD EPCS Gold and PDMP access. Learn more today at micromd.com or call us at 800.624.8832.
About the author,
Savanna is the Marketing Communication Specialist at Henry Schein MicroMD. She schedules emails to clients, prospects, and VARs, manages social media accounts, performs SEO research, writes blogs and eBooks, and much more while helping to support the simple yet powerful MicroMD solutions.
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