How EPCS will grow in 2018

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that 116 people a day die from opioid-related drug overdoses. Prescription opioid painkillers account for at least half of these deaths. Technology can play a significant role in preventing such prescription abuse and, subsequently, in combatting the opioid epidemic that has become a national emergency.

Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) was introduced as a way to address the high rates of drug abuse across the country. By making prescriptions harder to forge or steal, EPCS reduces the ease with which teens and other citizens can access prescription drugs. The electronic prescriptions, referred to as eRx, allow physicians to create e-prescriptions that can be received and acted upon by pharmacies.

In 2017, six states – New York, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, and North Carolina –  mandated the use of EPCS. In 2018, that trend is expected to grow. Legislation has already been introduced in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, with several additional states anticipated to follow suit.

Federal legislation was introduced in 2017, mandating the use of EPCS for Medicare Part D patients. More movement on the national level is also expected for 2018.

The use of EPCS in 2018 is expected to grow as an effective tool in the battle against opioid addiction. As HITConsultant points out, “technology now enables the delivery of prescriptions in a trusted, secure, compliant, and truly efficient manner.” Stemming the abuse of paper prescriptions is an important step toward combatting the opioid abuse epidemic.

Electronic health records (EHRs) that are certified for EPCS will also play a growing role in 2018. EHRs transmit information electronically, so that only a verified recipient, in this case the pharmacist, can access the information. EHRs certified for EPCS use a two-step authentication process to ensure that those using the system have the authority and the appropriate need to do so. Elation’s EHR solution provides EPCS capabilities for many of our independent physician customers.