A recent article in USA Today discussed the fact that although electronic prescribing of prescriptions, specifically controlled substances, would be a great way to cut down on abuse and fraud the majority of the United States is not utilizing this system. Only 7% of doctors are electronically prescribing controlled substances today. Currently only three states actually require that controlled substances be e-prescribed, however, only two of these three actually enforce this law. The three states that require controlled substances to be e-prescribed include Minnesota, New York and Maine.
Minnesota was the first state to require e-prescribing of controlled substances, although they do not allow physicians to be penalized for not doing so. New York requires physicians to check the online database to see if patients are getting controlled substances elsewhere before prescribing. They are then required to e-prescribe these prescriptions or they could face legal action. Maine became the third state to require e-prescribing of controlled substances in April 2016 and starting January 2017 physicians could face fines and/or jail time for not doing so.
Opioid abuse is one of the leading causes of death in the country currently, much of the abuse stemming from prescription painkillers. Physicians e-prescribe non-controlled medications on a regular basis and now that they have the ability to electronically send prescriptions to pharmacies for controlled substances they should be utilizing this software. Eliminating paper prescriptions can ensure that the patient is not altering the prescription in anyway, it would lessen the chance of patients ‘doctor-shopping’ to get multiple prescriptions, and it could prevent the chance of physician prescription pads being stolen which we see in the news all too often. Some people are afraid that although e-prescribing may make it harder for drug users to get their hands on controlled substances it could lead to these individuals turning to heroin to get their fix instead. Either way you look at the issue it is amazing that so few physicians are taking advantage of this new technology simply as an easier way to keep records if nothing else.
Hospices utilizing e-prescribe technology automatically meet federal and state regulations regarding how prescriptions are issued for controlled substances. Delta Care Rx is the only hospice pharmacy benefit manager in the United States that has developed their own proprietary e-prescribing platform for hospice clients. Currently, more than 250 clinicians use the Delta Care Rx e-prescribing tool. The number of hospice clinicians utilizing the Delta Care Rx e-prescribing technology is expected to quadruple by 2017 says Drew Mihalyo, PharmD who is the President and COO of Delta Care Rx.
Submitted by: Stephanie Stuparitz, PharmD Candidate 2017, Duquesne University
O’Donnell J. Most doctors don’t use e-prescribing for opioids. USA Today. May 19, 2016: 3A.