Governor Whitmer recently signed into law legislation (Public Acts 134, 135, and 136 of 2020) to require prescribers to electronically transmit all prescriptions, including those for controlled substances, to the patient’s chosen pharmacy beginning October 1, 2021. Various exceptions including a waiver process is included in the final version.
Despite opposition from MSMS, the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians, the Michigan Psychiatric Society, and Michigan College of Emergency Physicians, the Legislature was intent on joining the federal government (SUPPORT Act- includes an electronic prescribing mandate for controlled substances under Medicare) and at least 22 other states in mandating some form of electronic prescribing. MSMS was able to obtain some improvements to the bills; however, we were not successful in removing the unfunded mandate or penalty provisions.
Below are some tips for prescribers interested in starting the electronic prescription of controlled substances (EPCS).
Prescribers using an electronic health record (EHR), should check with their EHR vendor to determine which compliance pathway they must follow (depends on whether the system is registered to an individual DEA number or to an institutional or shared DEA number) and whether the EHR software version their practice is using is certified and approved for EPCS. If not, an updated version will be necessary before proceeding. If it is certified and approved, the following three steps need to be completed before a prescriber is legally able to EPCS:
1. Complete identity proofing in order to obtain an authorization and authorization credential.
2. Set-up two-factor authentication. This is how the application verifies the person using the application is someone who has been given access.
3. Set software access. At each location where an EPCS application will be used for controlled substances, at least two individuals must be designated to manage access to the application. At least one must be a DEA registrant (a DEA authorized prescriber). These two individuals will set secure access controls for the electronic prescribing application software.
Surescripts has some easy to follow video tutorials on their website to help walk you through the basic steps toward EPCS.
Prescribers without an EHR also have options. If you are currently using an electronic prescribing application for non-controlled medications, check with the vendor to see if they have a certified EPCS upgrade. If you are not using electronic prescribing at all, stand-alone electronic prescribing systems with EPCS are available that don’t require an EHR. There are systems designed to meet a variety of needs, from those that offer simplicity and basic functionality and can be used on a smart phone or tablet (e.g., Dr. First iPrescribe) to those that will offer a fuller range of functionality (e.g., Dr. First EPCS Gold). When you make your EPCS selection, steps 1-3 outlined above for EHR users must be completed in order to send electronic prescriptions for controlled substances.
Whether you are adding EPCS to your EHR, are upgrading your stand-alone eRx system, or are just wading into electronic prescribing, getting started now is extremely important. This will not only ensure you are able to have a smooth transition, keep interruptions to patient care at a minimum, but also allow you to have a secure way to prescribe controlled substances.
If you have further questions regarding electronic prescribing, please contact Dara J. Barrera at 517-336-5770.