Washington State Mandates Electronic Prescribing

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Photo Credit: Tyler Bird

Washington Governor Jay Inslee recently signed SB5380 into law. This Act mandates Washington healthcare providers to electronically prescribe all controlled substances with an effective date of January 1st, 2021.  This bill was created by request of the Governor and was one of several bills pushed through the House and Senate the day before Washington’s legislative session ended.

Other subsections of the Act include:

  • Several sections of the bill state that prescribers of varying practice must inform patients of their right to refuse an opioid prescription.
  • There are provisions in the Act for a waiver system with similar circumstances for approval as other states have enacted.  Some of these include economic hardship, technological limitations, and other circumstances determined by the board.
  • Pharmacies are not required to verify if a controlled substance prescription received via written, oral, or fax falls within the state and federal laws.
  • Effective January 1st, 2021 medical entities with ten or more prescribers must use an EHR that is integrated with the state Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) database.  The EHR must demonstrate both sending and receiving of PMP data.  A waiver process will be made available for this requirement as well.
  • A large portion of the Act establishes regulations and oversight that governs opioid addiction treatment.  The Act establishes that substance use disorders are medical conditions and discusses various aspects of how law enforcement, the Department of Corrections, and school districts should act when dealing with substance abuse.

Washington has remained well above the national average for opioid-related overdose deaths since tracking began in 1999 but in 2015 was overtaken by the national average as US rates began to rise.  Prescription opioid overdose deaths have continued to gradually decrease since 2011, however heroin deaths have begun to rise.[1]  Washington State established and has been utilizing their PMP since 2012.  In 2017, Washington passed HB1427 which created 5 commissions and boards tasked with creating requirements and recommendations for WA prescribers to follow for curbing opioid misuse.  One requirement established is that prescribers must complete additional training for the prescribing of opioids.  The Agency Medical Director’s Group suggests using opioid misuse risk assessment tools with every new patient that is being considered for an opioid prescription.  These guides determine whether the patient should be prescribed opioids by assigning a score based on several history, illness, and risk questions.

Washington currently has an 18.2% provider enablement for electronic prescribing of controlled substances, which is significantly below the national average of 34.4%.  Pharmacy enablement for EPCS is 96.0% which is above the current national average for pharmacies of 95.3%.[2]  There will likely be a big push leading up to 2021 to secure electronic prescribing, MDToolbox encourages providers not to wait!

Washington now aligns with several other states mandating electronic prescribing.  MDToolbox looks forward to working with providers throughout Washington to ease the transition and help provide tools and resources in combating the opioid epidemic.  With MDToolbox providers have access to tools such as Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) and convenient on the go mobile e-prescribing.  Contact us for more information or to start your free 30 day free trial.