The immense regulatory burden is the main issue faced by providers and the software systems that support them when it comes to federal mandates. To manage the ever-shifting regulatory landscape and maintain compliance, EHR systems across the country are being pulled in a hundred different directions, each one taking valuable time away from what matters most: improving the technology solutions that help those physicians do their good work.
In terms of electronic prescribing, federal, state, and DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) requirements put undue stress on EHR organizations across the nation.
The concern is that electronic health systems have yet another tool to implement and another list of regulatory measures that they must adhere to on top of the hundreds they already have to follow. The solution to this problem is partnering with the right vendor of an electronic prescribing system. The best partnership can relieve the regulatory burdens associated with electronic prescribing for your EHR organization.
Remaining Compliant with all EPCS Regulations
When it comes to regulating prescription drugs in the US, there is no lack of compliance measures in place. A recent study revealed that more than 131 million people, or 66 percent of adults in the United States, use at least one prescription drug. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that over 70,000 people died in the United States from a drug overdose in 2019. More than 36,000 of those deaths involved synthetic opioids.
Due to the growing overuse of controlled substances in the US, many states are putting mandates in place for electronic prescribing. As of January of 2021, Medicare mandates that prescriptions for all controlled substances under Part D be transmitted electronically. At this same time, 36 US States have current, future, or pending mandates on the implementation of e-prescribing. The hope and intention of these orders are to limit the abuse of controlled substances by creating a direct digital line from prescribers to pharmacies.
Drugs, substances, and certain chemicals used to make drugs are classified within 5 categories or “schedules” depending on their medical use and level of dependency potential. These categories help set the parameters for federal regulation, schedule 1 facing the strictest regulation and schedule 5 being the least regulated. Schedule 1 drugs have little to no medical use. They are considered extremely dangerous (unable to be prescribed at all) where schedule 5 drugs are commonly used by doctors and only have a slight potential for abuse. Per the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, as of January 1st, 2021 all drugs that fall within schedules 2-4 must be prescribed electronically.
The DEA regulatory requirements for EPCS include Application Certification, Identity Proofing, Two-Factor Identification, Logical Access Controls, Audit Trails & Reporting, and Timely Transmission.
The best way to remain compliant with DEA standards is to form a strong partnership with an experienced e-prescribing vendor. They are primarily responsible for ensuring your EHR organization remains compliant with all EPCS regulatory mandates.
Prior Authorization & Real-Time Benefits Tools
Electronic prescribing and prior authorizations have the capability to greatly abate the regulatory burden by eliminating a few unnecessary steps.
As of December 29, 2020, CMS named an e-prescribing standard to reduce regulatory burden and speed up patient access to medications. This final rule requires Part D prescription drug plans to have a prior authorization transaction standard for their Part D programs. This feature will enable providers to see that a certain drug requires prior authorization during the prescribing process rather than after it has already been sent to the pharmacy.
This rule requires that providers implement at least one real-time benefit tool (RTBT) that integrates directly into their electronic prescribing and EHR systems. It also requires that under the ONC Health IT Certification Program, providers must include a real-time benefit tool that conveys patient-specific cost and coverage information. The new electronic prior authorization standard enables providers to initiate and manage Part D Drug approvals within their own system, rather than have the patient complete an unnecessary number of steps outside of the visit.
The key to all of this is finding the right electronic prescribing solution to partner with your EHR. Fully integrated electronic prescribing and EHR systems will enable providers to offer accurate, up-to-date prescription prices and authorization information. When searching for a software partner that can relieve the regulatory burden, search for one that offers an integrated system that makes accessing prior authorization tools simple and efficient.
There are three stages within meaningful use: 1) Data Capture and Sharing, 2) Advanced Clinical Processes, and 3) Improved Outcomes. Once a voluntary opportunity, providers now face penalties should they not engage in the program. While there are many objectives that providers must adhere to, electronic prescribing is an important component of each stage.
E-prescribing allows EHRs and providers to achieve meaningful use more easily by setting the necessary foundation for success. It enables organizations to easily meet the threshold of this program while also taking other steps to achieve meaningful use. E-prescribe helps EHRs achieve meaningful use by:
- Enabling the simple prescription of controlled substances with minimal risk
- Reduces readmission risk
- Full Insights/Alerts for Previous Medication and History
- Managing After Hours Interruptions
- Reduce Callbacks from Pharmacies
- Reduce Patient Return Visits
- Enable the Prescription of Medications Covered by Insurance
- Minimized Prescription Drug Errors
Interoperability, sometimes referred to as Health Information Exchange, is one of those terms that has boomed in healthcare over the last few years. It is defined as the ability of separate information systems, devices, or applications to access, exchange, integrate, and use data in a coordinated sense. This data exchange should be possible across different organizations, regions, and national boundaries, making it simple to communicate information in a time-sensitive and seamless manner.
Interconnectivity between electronic prescription and EHR technologies enables providers to monitor and track patient prescription refills, medication adherence, and usage. Implementing an interoperable electronic prescribing system can also greatly reduce regulatory burden. The right program can check off each standard and specification set by the ISA and offer even more to simplify the prescribing workflow.
How NewCrop Can Help
NewCrop LLC provides electronic prescribing systems, delivered over the Internet and designed for incorporation into electronic medical records. All features are available as a comprehensive user interface or, via data services, as individual components. EPCS is available, as well as all interconnectivity requirements for Meaningful Use Stage 2.
New Crop has the right features to match your needs, whether you only need a simple solution to meet state mandates or want to enjoy more extensive capabilities. We’re facilitating EHR vendors and health practitioners alike in implementing sophisticated, end-to-end electronic prescriptions. To learn more about how NewCrop can help you secure your spot in the future of prescriptions, contact us to schedule a demo.