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Will Massachusetts be the Next State to Require EPCS?

All eyes have been on New York State as their I-STOP law requiring prescriptions to be sent electronically went into effect in March. Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) and non-controlled substances is mandatory across the state. Due to this mandate, New York leads the nation with the highest percentage of e-Prescribing pharmacies and prescribers. Other states are looking to New York to see how successful their mandate is and some have started to follow suit.

Maine is following New York by requiring controlled substance prescriptions to be sent electronically by July 2017. However, Maine is not requiring non-controlled substances to be prescribed electronically. It would follow that if prescribers are sending controlled substances electronically, they will most likely prescribe non-controlled substances through the same route though. Their law is in combination with required use of their state Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) in an effort to combat opiate abuse. Read more about it in our post Maine to Require e-Prescribing of Controlled Substances.

Minnesota was actually the first state to require electronic prescribing. However, there are no penalties for writing paper prescriptions so many prescribers still pick up their paper pad when they need to prescribe. According to Surescripts’ National Progress Report1, in 2015 Minnesota ranked 24th compared with other states with less than 3% of their prescribers enabled for EPCS.

Massachusetts just launched an updated version of their state PMP to the tune of $6.2 million. They updated it with the aim of making it easier and faster for prescribers to use, as the old system was said to be very difficult to navigate and severely underutilized. The system now also offers interstate operability by giving Massachusetts prescribers access to data from other states. Currently, the number of other states’ data available is limited but the system has the potential to connect with up to 45 other states. Other updates include the ability to sync with EMRs, the ability to easily assign delegates to check the system on the prescriber’s behalf, and allowing for easy reporting to compare prescribing practices with other physicians. Starting October 15th, prescribers will be required to check the state PMP any time they prescribe a schedule II or schedule III drug, as opposed to the current requirement of only checking the first time they prescribe one of these drugs.

Now that Massachusetts has their new PMP in place, it is rumored they may be the next state to require EPCS. They ranked number 9 in Surescripts’ National Progress Report with over 90% of their pharmacies enabled for EPCS, but the percent of prescribers with EPCS capabilities was only 4%. As of last week, 63% of their prescribers who had prescribed opioids were registered with the PMP but the number is growing daily.

At MDToolbox, we are watching closely in anticipation to see which state will be the next to take this important step in combating drug fraud and abuse.

 

 

  1. 2015 National Progress Report http://surescripts.com/news-center/national-progress-report-2015/

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