New CMS E-Prescribing Mandate Begins January 1st, 2021. Are you prepared?

Posted by on Comments (0)

In just four months from now, starting in January 2021, CMS will require electronically prescribing controlled substances (EPCS) for Medicare Part D prescribers.

The Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act, HR6 - Public Law 115-271, was signed into law on October 24th, 2018. The Act’s primary purpose is to combat the growing opioid epidemic by:

  • Teaching addiction medicine by increasing and strengthening the workforce
  • Standardizing the delivery of addiction medicine and care
  • Covering addiction medicine in a way that facilities the delivery of treatment

One of the more than 60 policies included is the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act. This Act will require prescribers to electronically prescribe controlled substances for Schedule II-V drugs covered under a Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan. While many states have enacted their own laws requiring e-Prescribing, this is the first federal mandate for EPCS.

According to Surescripts, 55.2% of prescribers in the US are currently enabled for EPCS.  This number is up drastically from only 32% in 2018 when the SUPPORT Act was signed.  The increase is likely due to state-level mandates, as well as the rise of telemedicine usage during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Additional relevant requirements set in place by the SUPPORT Act and CMS rulings that begin in 2021 include:

  • Electronic prior authorizations will be required for all Medicare Part D covered drugs requiring a prior authorization. Electronic prescription programs will be required to securely transmit the requests and Part D sponsors and processors must respond electronically using a defined standard. A facsimile, proprietary payer portal, or an electronic form that does not meet the standards will not be counted as an electronic submission.
  • Provisions to enhance states’ Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). The goal is to ensure each state has a PDMP, improve their functionality, make sure all prescribers are utilizing the systems, and foster data sharing between states. Beginning October 1, 2021 states must require health care providers to check their PDMP for a Medicaid enrollee's prescription drug history before prescribing controlled substances to the enrollee.
  • On May 23, 2019, CMS published a final rule (CMS-4180-F) requiring that Part D plans adopt one or more real time benefit tools (RTBTs) capable of giving prescribers clinically appropriate patient-specific real-time formulary and benefit information. This mandate is also effective January 1, 2021.

CMS is currently seeking public comments regarding the EPCS requirement. CMS is requesting input as to whether there should be exceptions provided and if so, what circumstances would qualify prescribers for an EPCS exception. CMS also wants feedback on whether penalties should be imposed for noncompliance with the EPCS mandate and if so, what the penalties should be. Comments can be made until October 5th, 2020.  These rules and exceptions are expected to be provided before the 2021 deadline.

MDToolbox applauds this bipartisan legislation. We are continually encouraging providers to take advantage of the technologies we provide including Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS), Electronic Prior Authorization (e-PA) and Real-time Price Transparency as they are important tools to use in fighting the devastating opioid epidemic and making electronic prescribing as convenient as possible for prescribers. Putting these federal mandates in place is an important step towards fully utilizing the available technology to save lives. 

 


The Future of Telemedicine

Posted by on Comments (0)

The world has seen remarkable changes this year, the methods we receive healthcare being a significant part of that change. COVID-19 has hurried the adoption of telemedicine into mainstream usage during the declared public health emergency (PHE). Legislation has now been presented to keep telemedicine as part of standard healthcare and make its usage more convenient for both providers and their patients.

President Trump’s Executive Order on Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access

President Trump signed executive orders on August 3rd to promote the expansion of telehealth services. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) outlined 135 services that are allowable via telehealth during the PHE, Trump’s executive order outlines that the services become permanently available via telehealth. The executive order also offers financial incentives for rural hospitals to continue seeing patients with a high-quality of care and directs the federal government to improve the healthcare communication infrastructure in rural areas.

“Telemedicine can never fully replace in-person care, but it can complement and enhance in-person care by furnishing one more powerful clinical tool to increase access and choices for America’s seniors,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “The Trump Administration’s unprecedented expansion of telemedicine during the pandemic represents a revolution in healthcare delivery, one to which the healthcare system has adapted quickly and effectively. [1]

CMS Proposes Permanent Expansion of Telehealth

Consistent with Trump’s executive order, CMS proposed that many telehealth service payments should be expanded to be permanently covered past the PHE. A major hurdle hindering providers from adopting telemedicine as part of their practice is the disparity in the CMS reimbursement payment structure for in-person versus telehealth visits. During the PHE, CMS allowed parity in the payment structure for in-person and telehealth visits, making telehealth even more attractive for providers to participate. According to CMS, before the PHE, only 14,000 beneficiaries received a Medicare telehealth service in a week while in the last week of April, nearly 1.7 million beneficiaries received telehealth services.

Source: CMS Health Affairs Blog. Internal CMS analysis of Medicare FFS claims data, March 17, 2020 through June 13, 2020(using data processed through June, 19, 2020) Notes: Telemedicine is defined to include services on the Medicare telehealth list including audio-only visits, as well as virtual check-ins and e-visits. https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20200715.454789/full/

Many medical providers and associations have requested that the parity remain to allow telehealth to continue growing due to the better hold on financial security. CMS is asking for input from stakeholders regarding what services should bee added to the Medicare telehealth list and the public comment period for the proposed rule is open until October 5, 2020.

 

Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment (TREAT) Act

Another barrier that providers are facing is the lack of inter-state licensing ability to be able to practice telemedicine for patients residing in other states. Senators Chris Murphy and Roy Blunt have presented the Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment (TREAT) Act which would grant providers the ability to treat patients in any state during and immediately following the PHE. The Act also establishes that the reciprocity can be reactivated should another PHE happen in the future, again reducing inter-state complications. Some states have reduced the requirements for providers to get a license, and some states have granted temporary licenses. Mandating nation-wide reciprocity could be invaluable to patient health during a worsening or future PHE.

 

DEA Telehealth Policies

EPCS

The Ryan Haight Act of 2008 established regulations and prohibited healthcare providers from prescribing controlled substances to patients that they haven’t first examined in-person. Section 802(54)(D) of the Controlled Substances Act allows for the Ryan Haight Act to be circumvented during a public health emergency which the DEA invoked on March 16, 2020. This currently allows MDToolbox users to electronically prescribe controlled substances (EPCS) for patients via telemedicine. Patients must be evaluated using a real-time, two-way, audio-visual communications device.

The DEA has missed several deadlines to establish rules and a waiver system to allow electronic prescribing of controlled substances via telemedicine when there is not a PHE. Reducing these road-blocks, as we are seeing with the emergency measures in place due to COVID-19 can help bring healthcare into the 21st century and help reduce stress on our medical system and patients.

DEA State Registration

The DEA has also waived the requirement for state-specific registrations during the PHE. The exception to separate registration requirements across state lines was issued March 25, 2020 and allows prescribers who are registered in at least one state to prescribe controlled substances to patients in other states via telemedicine.

Opioid Use Disorders

The DEA, in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), also stated that it is allowing authorized providers to prescribe buprenorphine to new and existing patients with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) via only telephone voice calls without first requiring an examination of the patient in person or via telemedicine. This exception is only during the PHE and prescribing practitioners must be DATA-waived.

 

Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services (TREATS) Act

Not to be confused with the earlier mentioned TREAT act, the Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services (TREATS) Act was introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and looks to make some of the telehealth substance use disorder (SUD) treatment changes permanent.

The bill adds to and replaces language in the current Telehealth for Substance Use Disorder Treatment codes. The changes would allow a Schedule III or IV medication to be prescribed for the purpose of treatment for an Opioid Use Disorder via “1 in-person medical evaluation or 1 telehealth evaluation”.  The bill then clarifies that the “1 telehealth evaluation” shall not be construed to imply that a single telehealth evaluation demonstrates the usual course of professional practice. The medical provider will need to continue follow-up and management of the patient and medication after the initial in-person or telehealth visit per current guidelines.

Continue to follow our blog and social media for information related to telehealth and electronic prescribing. MDToolbox looks forward to providing tools and resources to assist telemedicine providers throughout the United States to ease the transition, helping our customers increase the efficiency of their office and combat the opioid epidemic. With MDToolbox, prescribers have access to tools such as Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS), the ability to check most State’s PMPs without having to separately login to their State portal, and convenient on the go e-prescribing with our mobile app! We offer a free 30 day free trial, so Contact us for more information!

 

[1]https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/trump-administration-proposes-expand-telehealth-benefits-permanently-medicare-beneficiaries-beyond

Benefits of Electronic Prescribing Software for Telemedicine

Posted by on Comments (0)

2020 has seen massive growth for telemedicine due to the pandemic. Many much-needed policy changes have been put in place in response, including allowing prescribers to prescribe both non-controlled and controlled medications to patients without first seeing them in person during the public health emergency. The CDC has also issued guidelines recommending telehealth to expand access to essential health services during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay tuned as we will dive further into the policies and other proposed changes next week. In this post, we focus on the many benefits of e-prescribing in telemedicine.

The increase in patient access to healthcare via telemedicine is a powerful tool, one that appears to be highly desired by patients. A recent report presented by the Department of Health and Human Services detailed that 43.5% of Medicare fee-for-service primary care visits were conducted via Telemedicine in April of this year, up from just .1% of visits in February before the public health crisis had been declared.

Electronic prescribing has many advantages for prescribers practicing telemedicine and telehealth. Sending prescriptions electronically can drastically improve a prescriber’s workflow by being able to transmit prescriptions to the pharmacy quickly and efficiently, avoiding the traditional stresses of mailing a paper prescription, making phone calls, or dealing with pages of faxes so that remote patients can receive their medications.

Here are five ways MDToolbox offers one of the best e-Prescribing software services to save telemedicine practices time & money:

1. Electronic prescribing will improve the safety and quality of care that providers can provide patients.

E-prescribing can reduce drug errors by eliminating handwriting and illegibility issues with prescriptions, sending the prescription digitally ensures the order is clear.  Some electronic prescribing systems (such as MDToolbox) allow for pulling medication fill history for patients automatically, so even if the patient cannot recall their medications, the prescriber will have quick access to a record of it. MDToolbox can improve patient safety by alerting for any drug to drug interactions, drug allergy interactions, drug to condition interactions, and duplicate therapy conditions. These alerts could save a patient’s life.

2. With MDToolbox, patient medication history can be checked in as little as one click.

The opioid epidemic plaguing our country has resulted in many states mandating checking the state specific Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PMPs) prior to prescribing certain controlled substance medications. MDToolbox allows prescribers in most states to be able to check this data directly within the prescription writer, saving prescribers time so they can move on to their next virtual visit quickly and efficiently.

3. Satisfy Medicare MIPS requirements by meeting Meaning Full use.

MDToolbox is certified to meet Meaningful Use requirements necessary for the Merit Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).  By using MDToolbox, prescribers are able to increase their scores and maximize their payment adjustments received by Medicare.  Please see our Meaningful Use Certification page for specifics on certifications.

4. Electronic prescribing saves patient’s money and increases patient satisfaction.

MDToolbox allows for viewing the price of the specific medication the provider is prescribing at their patient’s specific pharmacy as they are writing the prescription. The system will present potential alternatives that may save the patient money by making a brand or pharmacy change. This could also save the practice valuable time avoiding a patient calling back to change pharmacies if they find the price too high where the medication was prescribed.

5. Meet State and National mandates to electronically prescribe.

States are continuing to pass legislation requiring all prescribers to send electronic prescriptions. Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming have mandates going into effect in 2021. See our State Map for information on current and pending legislation. Some States detail extensive penalties for not complying with their electronic prescribing legislation. In addition, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act will require EPCS at the national level starting in January 2021.

MDToolbox looks forward to providing tools and resources to assist telemedicine providers throughout the United States to ease the transition, helping our customers increase the efficiency of their office and combat the opioid epidemic. With MDToolbox, prescribers have access to tools such as Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS), the ability to check most State’s PMPs without having to separately login to their State portal, and convenient on the go e-prescribing with our mobile app! We offer a free 30 day free trial, so Contact us for more information!

Michigan Mandates Electronic Prescribing!

Posted by on Comments (0)

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmerrecently signed her State’s electronic prescribing mandate into law. Michigan House Bill 4217mandates healthcare providers to electronically prescribe all prescriptions with an effective date of October 1st, 2021. This bill was initially introduced in 2019 with an effective date of January 1st, 2021. The bill took until summer of 2020 to pass after being amended several times in both the House and Senate.

The Michigan mandate contains several exceptions in which electronic prescribing is not required, but all are standard to what other states have enacted. The mandate also makes mention of a waiver system but has no details on specifics other than the waiver is not to last for more than 2 years.

One unique section to the electronic prescribing legislation is that the mandate only takes effect if both SB248 and SB254 are also enacted into law. Both additional bills have also been enacted.

  • SB248 is a bill related to regulation changes for pharmacists including the dispensing of medications. The bill covers new requirements and penalties for non-compliance. The bill also discusses licensing for acupuncturists.
  • SB254 is a bill related to legal responsibilities of health care employees and their interactions with patients. The bill establishes that the Michigan Department of Health may investigate allegations of misconduct and pass along their findings to the appropriate disciplinary subcommittee.

 

Michigan is currently well above the national average for opioid-related overdose deaths, with 20.8 deaths per 100,000 people while the national average is 14.6 deaths. Prescription opioid overdose deaths continued to gradually rise until 2016, then have been on a slight downward trend since then. Heroin and synthetic opioid deaths have continued to rise since the early 2000’s with a sharp rise in synthetic opioid use beginning in 2014.[1]

The gradual decline in prescription opioid overdose deaths in Michigan might be in part due to the State legislature enacting a 10-bill package to attempt combatting the opioid epidemic in their state in Demember 2017. The bills covered a wide range of changes for Michigan residents and healthcare professionals. Among the requirements are:

  • Mandatory patient education when being prescribed opioids
  • Patient-provider relationship requirements
  • PMP check requirements
  • Drug dispensing restrictions
  • Opioid education in the public school system

Michigan currently has a 44.9% prescriber enablement for electronic prescribing of controlled substances, below the national average of 51.1%. Pharmacy enablement in Michigan for EPCS is 95.3%, which is also below the national average of 97.1%.[2] MDToolbox encourages providers not to wait until the last minute to setup electronic prescribing!

Please see our website for other states that have either passed or have pending legislation that mandates electronic prescribing. MDToolbox looks forward to providing tools and resources to assist providers throughout Michigan to ease the transition and help our customers combat the opioid epidemic. With MDToolbox, providers have access to tools such as Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) and convenient on the go e-prescribing with our mobile app! We offer a free 30 day free trial, so Contact us for more information!

 

[1]https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state/michigan-opioid-involved-deaths-related-harms
[2]https://surescripts.com/enhance-prescribing/e-prescribing/e-prescribing-for-controlled-substances/

Utah and Maryland Mandate Electronic Prescribing!

Posted by on Comments (0)

Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan have both recently signed their State’s electronic prescribing mandates into law. Utah House Bill 177 mandates healthcare providers to electronically prescribe all controlled substance medications with an effective date of January 1st, 2022. Both Maryland Senate Bill 166 and House Bill 512 also mandate providers to electronically prescribe all controlled substances with an effective date of January 1st, 2022.

The Utah and Maryland mandates require their State’s various medical boards to establish rules and regulations for a system to temporarily waive the requirement of electronic prescribing. Maryland’s waiver will not exceed one year, and Utah’s waiver will grant up to a two-year extension for the electronic prescribing requirement. Maryland’s mandate states that the Health Occupations Board may take disciplinary action for violating the mandate, while Utah’s bill goes into specific detail about criminal charges and monetary fines for prescribers who violate the electronic prescribing mandate. The Utah mandate also goes into additional detail about licensing to manufacture, produce, and conduct research with medications.

Utah is currently above the national average for opioid-related overdose deaths, with 15.5 deaths per 100,000 people while the national average is 14.6 deaths. Prescription opioid overdose deaths continued to gradually rise until 2015, then have been on a downward trend since then.[1] Heroin and synthetic opioid deaths have continued to rise since the early 2000’s. Utah began attempting to tackle their Opioid dependence problems heavily in 2017. SB258 established guidelines for prescribing both opiates and opiate antagonists. HB146 setup guidelines for partial filling of schedule II controlled substance prescriptions.

 

Maryland is second only to West Virginia for having the highest opioid-related overdose deaths with 33.7 deaths per 100,000 people, more than double the national rate. Prescription opioid overdose deaths continued to gradually rise until taking a sharp turn in 2016, but have since been on a downward trend. Synthetic opioid deaths have sharply risen since 2015. [2] In 2017 Larry Hogan signed the Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act into law. The HOPE Act improved patient education, increased treatment services, and eventually expanded Naloxone access. The Controlled Dangerous Substances – Volume Dealers Act passed in 2018 allowed for more effective prosecution of drug traffickers in the state.

Utah is ahead of Maryland in their EPCS enablement statistics. Utah currently has a 50.6% prescriber enablement for electronic prescribing of controlled substances, slightly below the national average of 51.1% while Maryland has only 34.9% prescriber enablement. Pharmacy enablement in Utah for EPCS is 99.0%, well above the national average of 97.1% while Maryland is slightly below the national average at 96.9%.[3] MDToolbox encourages providers not to wait until the last minute to setup electronic prescribing!

Please see our website for other states that have either passed or have pending legislation that mandates electronic prescribing. MDToolbox looks forward to providing tools and resources to assist providers throughout Maryland and Utah to ease the transition and help our customers combat the opioid epidemic. With MDToolbox, providers have access to tools such as Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) and convenient on the go e-prescribing with our mobile app! We offer a free 30 day free trial, so Contact us for more information!

 

[1]https://www.drugabuse.gov/opioid-summaries-by-state/utah-opioid-summary
[2]https://www.drugabuse.gov/opioid-summaries-by-state/maryland-opioid-involved-deaths-related-harms
[3]https://surescripts.com/enhance-prescribing/e-prescribing/e-prescribing-for-controlled-substances/

Benefits of Electronic Prescribing Software for Dentists

Posted by on Comments (0)

Electronic prescribing has many advantages for dentists and dental offices. Sending prescriptions electronically can drastically improve a dentist’s workflow by being able to transmit prescriptions to the pharmacy quickly and efficiently, avoiding the traditional stresses of writing out paper prescriptions, making phone calls, or dealing with pages of faxes.

 

Here are five ways MDToolbox offers one of the best e-Prescribing software services to save dental practices time & money:

 

1. Dental e-prescribing allows dentists to improve the safety and quality of care they provide. 

Patients may remember to bring their medication list with them to see their cardiologist but might not remember their list when seeing the dentist. Some electronic prescribing systems (such as MDToolbox) allow for pulling medication fill history for patients automatically, so even if the patient cannot recall their medications, the dentist will have a record of it. MDToolbox can improve patient safety by alerting for any drug to drug interactions, drug allergy interactions, drug to condition interactions, and duplicate therapy conditions. These alerts could save a patient’s life.

 

2. MDToolbox allows for checking State PMPs in one click.

The opioid epidemic plaguing our country has resulted in many states mandating checking the state specific Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PMPs) prior to prescribing certain controlled substance medications. MDToolbox allows dentists in most states to be able to check this data directly within the prescription writer, saving dentists time when they could be seeing patients.

 

3. Dental practices require different software than traditional medical offices.

MDToolbox offers a stream-lined stand-alone solution to electronic prescribing without the extensive, steep learning curve of a full EMR. Quickly accessing a patient file and sending a prescription to the pharmacy can be invaluable to an efficient workflow in a modern dental practice. Prescribers will also find dental-specific medication monograph data when looking up drug information in the program.

 

4. Electronic prescribing saves patient’s money, which may help when the Nitrous Oxide wears off.

 MDToolbox offers real-time pricing benefit from directly within our system. This allows for viewing the price of the specific medication the dentist is prescribing at their patient’s specific pharmacy as they are writing the prescription. The system will present potential alternatives that may save the patient money by making a brand or pharmacy change.

 

5. Meet State and National mandates to electronically prescribe.

States are continuing to pass legislation requiring all prescribers, including dentists, to send electronic prescriptions. See our State Map for information on current and pending legislation. Some States detail extensive penalties for not complying with their electronic prescribing legislation. In addition, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act will require EPCS at the national level starting in January 2021.

 

MDToolbox looks forward to providing tools and resources to assist dentists throughout the United States to ease the transition, helping our customers increase the efficiency of their office and combat the opioid epidemic. With MDToolbox, dentists have access to tools such as Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS), the ability to check most State’s PMPs without having to separately login to their State portal, and convenient on the go e-prescribing with our mobile app! We offer a free 30 day free trial, so Contact us for more information!

MDToolbox Awarded Best Value, Best Ease of Use, and Best Functionality & Features

Posted by on Comments (0)

MDToolbox is proud to announce that we have recently won three awards for our electronic prescribing platform!

 

Capterra, a free online service that helps organizations find the right software, has awarded MDToolbox both their “Best Value” and “Best Ease of Use” awards for 2020.  These were independently assessed based on user reviews and online search activity amongst the electronic prescribing software market. The awards are only given to software companies whose products reach an average review rating score greater than 4.5 across all of the products’ published reviews within the submission period.

 

 

 

In our Capterra reviews, Valori C. stated “…there are not enough superlatives to describe this product and its affordability.”  MDToolbox is extremely proud to be recognized for Best Value for electronic prescribing, as we concentrate on providing the most affordable option on the market without sacrificing features or generating secondary income off our users by including ads or selling their patient data. With MDToolbox, our focus is solely on providing software that healthcare providers can rely on, so they can focus on what really matters – patient care.

 

Ease of Use is something difficult to achieve considering the myriad of regulations that come with electronic prescribing. MDToolbox engineers are constantly striving to lessen the learning curve for electronic prescribing. Noreene R. said “I was able to figure out how to use it on my own when my secretary was out for a week. The ease of operation is really impressive and there are so few steps to complete the transaction. We are very happy that we chose this system.” 

 

However, if that learning curve is still too steep for some users, MDToolbox prides itself on having some of the best customer support in the market with average hold-times of under 30 seconds.  Our support staff are happy to assist our users better utilize the system to make their medical practice as efficient as possible.            

 

GetApp, a sister site of Capterra that also focuses on helping professionals find the right software, has awarded MDToolbox their “Best Functionality and Features” award for 2020.  GetApp calculated scores for their award based on user reviews and product features evaluated by a research analyst.

 

 

Julie B. wrote “The ease of use is the most important thing that I liked about the software. Also the feature of notifying the pharmacy of discontinuing the medication. That is a feature I did not have on the other software I used. I can also track the medication from escribing through to the pharmacy's acceptance which is great.”

 

MDToolbox has remained a frontrunner for adopting new features and certifying to industry standards.  MDToolbox staff are driven to provide as many useful features as possible while our engineers are ensuring the stable functionality that is imperative to the modern medical practice. State Prescription drug Monitoring Program (PMP) integration, real-time prescription benefit information, compounded-drug prescribing, and drug interaction alerts are just some of the included advanced features that make MDToolbox stand out as a superior electronic prescribing system.

 

We’re thankful to all of our users who’ve left us such great reviews and aim to continue providing the best e-prescribing software we can. Please see Capterra for our full reviews and if you’re ready to check out our award-winning software yourself, make sure to sign up for our free 30 day trial!

 

The Best badge recipients are determined by the subjective opinions of individual end-user customers based on their own experiences, the number and timing of published reviews on Gartner’s digital sites (Capterra.com, SoftwareAdvice.com, and GetApp.com) and review ratings for a given product in the category, and are not intended in any way to represent the views of Gartner or its affiliates.

DEA Confirms Providers Can Prescribe Controlled Substances Via Telemed

Posted by on Comments (0)

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have released clarification of United States Code contained in the Controlled Substances Act affecting Telehealth visits. 

 

President Trump in a Tuesday briefing said his administration would "encourage everyone to maximize use of telehealth to limit exposure to the virus."

 

The DEA has clarified that during a Public Health Emergency, which was issued by Secretary Azar of HHS on January 31st, 2020 due to the COVID-19 virus, that controlled substances may be prescribed via telemedicine without first conducting an in-person visit with the patient.  The Ryan Haight Act of 2008 established regulations and prohibited heathcare providers from prescribing controlled substances to patients that they haven’t first examined in-person.  Section 802(54)(D) of the Controlled Substances Act allows for the Ryan Haight Act to be circumvented during a public health emergency which would allow MDToolbox customers to electronically prescribe controlled substances (EPCS) for patients via telemedicine.

 

The DEA has stated three conditions for prescribing controlled substances via telemedicine:

  • The prescription is issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a practitioner acting in the usual course of his/her professional practice
  • The telemedicine communication is conducted using an audio-visual, real-time, two-way interactive communication system.
  • The practitioner is acting in accordance with applicable Federal and State law.

 

Not all States allow for EPCS via telemedicine, prescribers will need to ensure that they are following both their State law as well as the State law where the patient resides prior to prescribing via telemedicine.  Some states that allow for EPCS via telemedicine include Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Delaware, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Connecticut.  Prescribers should contact their State Medical and Pharmacy Boards as well as the State Boards where their patient resides to ensure their compliance.

 

HHS has also issued further clarification on the systems that can be used for a telemedicine visit, they have ensured penalties will not be enforced for using apps such as:

  • Apple FaceTime
  • Facebook Messenger video chat
  • Google Hangouts video
  • Skype

 

This is not an inclusive list and are examples of apps that can be used.  The app must be a private communication means that support both audio and video.  The DEA provided further clarification that public communication apps or streaming services are not to be used such as:

  • Facebook Live
  • Twitch
  • TikTok

 

The DEA has missed several deadlines to establish rules and a waiver system to allow electronic prescribing of controlled substances via telemedicine during a time in which we are not in a Public Health Emergency.  Reducing these road-blocks, as we are seeing with the emergency measures in place due to COVID-19 can help bring healthcare into the 21st century and help reduce stress on our medical system as well as help prevent infections.

 

We at MDToolbox applaud HHS and the DEA for removing the telemedicine restrictions and our team are watching for more regulation changes on a federal level that would allow electronic prescription of controlled substances via a telehealth practitioner.  You will find any policy and regulation updates here in our blog.  MDToolbox looks forward to working with telehealth providers and help provide tools and resources in combating healthcare system strain.  Contact us for more information or to start your free 30 day free trial.

New Legislation Reduces Telehealth Restrictions

Posted by on Comments (0)

Emergency legislation has just been enacted that will allow for Medicare reimbursement for practices utilizing telemedicine to treat patients at home regardless of where they live.  The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act was introduced on Wednesday March 6th, 2020.  The bill was enacted and became law on the following Friday with near unanimous support in both the House and Senate.  The Act provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding to agencies responding to the Coronavirus outbreak.

 

The emergency funding is to be distributed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as follows:

  • $3.4 billion for the Office of the Secretary – Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF)
  • $1.9 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • $1.6 billion for international response efforts
  • $836 million for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID),
  • $61 million for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • $20 million is for the Small Business Administration (SBA)

 

The Act includes a provision entitled the “Telehealth Services During Certain Emergency Periods Act of 2020” which details a waiver removing restrictions on Medicare providers allowing them to offer telehealth services to beneficiaries regardless of whether the beneficiary is in a rural community.  The waiver becomes effective when either the President of the United States or Secretary of HHS declare a public health emergency.  Secretary Azar of HHS declared a public health emergency on January 31st, 2020 which was retroactive to January 27th, 2020.

 

 “To protect public health, the bill will allow Medicare providers to extend telemedicine services to seniors regardless of where they live, at an estimated cost of $500 million,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement released on March 4th.

 

From the demographics of those infected and killed by COVID-19 internationally, the current data available shows that the elderly age group are most affected by the virus.  While the virus has only begun spreading rapidly in the US in the past two weeks, the Act will hopefully be pro-active enough to save lives by giving patients the option to stay home, away from hospitals and doctor offices to be triaged and seen remotely by care providers.

 

China needed to emergently construct temporary hospitals in a matter of days to handle the influx of patients seeking medical attention, the US could likely see a similar rise in hospital visits and admittances.  Further adoption of telehealth could help alleviate some of that strain on the healthcare system, reducing infection by keeping patients at home, allowing providers to see more patients, and by reducing the sheer numbers of people entering healthcare facilities.

 

MDToolbox has positioned itself to cater to both traditional and telehealth providers needing a simple feature-rich electronic prescribing solution that can be implemented in a minimal timeframe.  Our stand-alone electronic prescribing system is streamlined and easy to use with a much more gentle learning curve than larger EMRs.  Most prescribers can be electronically prescribing within 24 hours, minimal downtime before being able to send prescriptions electronically to more than 98% of the pharmacies in the U.S. including mail order pharmacies that can deliver directly to home-quarantined patients.

 

Although the Coronavirus Preparedness Act removes some of the restrictions hindering telemedicine, the DEA has missed several deadlines to establish rules and a waiver system to allow electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) via telemedicine.  The Ryan Haight Act of 2008 requires an in-person consultation at regular intervals prior to EPCS via telemedicine.  Reducing these road-blocks can help bring healthcare into the 21st century and help reduce stress on our medical system as well as help prevent infections.

 

We at MDToolbox applaud Congress and HHS for removing some of the telemedicine restrictions and our team are watching for more regulation changes on a federal level that would allow electronic prescription of controlled substances via a telehealth practitioner.  You will find any policy updates here in our blog.  MDToolbox looks forward to working with telehealth providers and help provide tools and resources in combating healthcare system strain.  Contact us for more information or to start your free 30 day free trial.

 

HHS Release Strategy to Reduce EHR Clinician Burden

Posted by on Comments (0)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released their Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs report. This report was required by the 21st Century Cures Act and is intended to reduce the effort and time required by clinicians to meet reporting requirements, record health information, and improve the functionality and intuitiveness of EHRs.

 

“Usable, interoperable health IT is essential to a healthcare system that puts the patient at the center” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “We received feedback from hundreds of organizations and healthcare providers on this new burden-reduction strategy, and the input made clear that there are plenty of steps still necessary to make IT more usable for providers and maximize the promise of electronic health records.”

 

Clinician burden is linked to EHR usability, the report was written considering input from more than 200 comments submitted in response to the draft report (released in November 2018) and recommendations. The report details three primary goals:

 

  • Reduce the effort and time required to record information in EHRs for health care providers when they are seeing patients
  • Reduce the effort and time required to meet regulatory reporting requirements for clinicians, hospitals, and health care organizations
  • Improve the functionality and intuitiveness (ease of use) of EHRs.

 

“The taxpayers made a massive investment in EHRs with the expectation that it would solve the many issues that plagued paper-bound health records,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Unfortunately – as this report shows – in all too many cases, the cure has been worse than the disease. Twenty years into the 21st century, it’s unacceptable that the application of Health IT still struggles to provide ready access to medical records – access that might mean the difference between life and death. The report’s recommendations provide valuable guidance on how to minimize EHR burden as we seek to fulfill the promise of an interoperable health system.”

 

Specifically, ONC and CMS looked at four key areas and offered strategies to address each area:

 

  •  Increasing public health reporting by working to increase provider PDMP queries, increasing adoption of EPCS, and developing a process to address the issue of inconsistent data collected by federal, state, and local programs.
  • Reducing clinical documentation requirements by leveraging health IT to standardize data and processes around ordering services and by reducing required documentation for patient visits.
  • Increasing health IT usability and standardization by promoting user interface optimization, promoting harmonization surrounding clinical content such as medication information, and simplifying order entry in EMRs to reduce burden.
  • Standardizing federal health IT and EHR reporting by simplifying program requirements such as the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and the Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program.

 

MDToolbox is optimistic that the medical industry will soon see improvements that stem from the research and public commentary addressed in this report as it is used to affect coming regulations and standards.  We are proud to have already addressed some of the key strategic areas for improvement detailed in the report.  With MDToolbox, providers have access to tools such as Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS), convenient on the go e-prescribing with our mobile app, and prescribers can register for our PMP-gateway access option in most states.  Our engineers are continually developing methods and workflows to save providers and medical staff time and energy.  We offer a free 30 day free trial, so Contact us for more information!