The opioid epidemic is one of the largest challenges faced by the US healthcare system today. While such a large-scale and intricate issue has no simple solution, there are simple steps healthcare providers and organizations can take to mitigate the risk of opioid abuse. One of the best tools we have to combat this crisis is e-prescribe, and the value goes far beyond the simple security of electronic prescriptions. Let’s take a look at all the ways electronic prescriptions help health IT protect patients and prescribers.
Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances
At the epicenter of the fight against opioid abuse is EPCS (electronic prescribing of controlled substances). Combatting the opioid crisis is a coin with two sides. On one side, patients require narcotics for treatment and healing. On the other, these addictive substances must be brought under tight control to fight the epidemic. After all, a person who is addicted to opioid painkillers is 40 times more likely to become a heroin user than non-opioid users.
Electronic prescriptions pretty much eliminate prescriptions fraud, removing the opportunity for altering patient information or tampering with prescriptions. Since the prescription is transmitted directly to the pharmacy, there’s almost no opportunity for fraudulent alterations or stolen prescriptions pads.
The DEA sets strict guidelines for EPCS-certified software in order to verify patient and prescriber identity, keep electronic prescriptions secure, and keep a record of any suspect outliers. EPCS works from point of care to pharmacy pick-up to prevent controlled substances from entering the secondary market.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs
An effective electronic prescribing solution with EPCS also works in tandem with a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) which is a state-wide database that tracks controlled substances. When it comes to doctor-shopping, or patients seeking treatment from multiple doctors with the aim of securing controlled medication, there is no better defense than access to PDMP databases. The best e-prescribe tools tap into these databases not only for the prescriber’s state but also neighboring states, as it is not unheard of for these patients to travel across state lines to obtain drugs.
EHR Integrations and Evaluating Risk for Drug-Aberrant Behavior
Physicians, especially those heavily involved in pain management, are no stranger to assessments designed specifically to gauge their patients’ risk for opioid addiction. When an EPCS-certified e-prescribe tool is fully integrated within an EHR, it allows prescribers to easily access this kind of documentation that helps determine whether a patient’s treatment should receive extra caution or if another solution should be investigated.
Telemedicine and the Future
The global pandemic only complicated matters further. Not only did telehealth emphasize the need for a secure, virtual prescribing process, social isolation and widespread anxiety exacerbated many of the symptoms which could cause someone to self-medicate with illegal drugs. Thankfully, electronic prescribing turned out to be an excellent solution. Not only does it help keep prescriptions out of the wrong hands, it made treatment and prescriptions medication more accessible for those who may not have otherwise had access due to depression, mobility issues, lack of transportation, etc.
The bottom line is electronic prescriptions are absolutely essential in fighting the opioid epidemic. As an added benefit, the technology makes prescribing decisions easier with clinical support tools, prevents insurance issues, protects private health data, and makes it easier for patients to access treatment.
For EHR systems, partnering with a certified EPCS system can help ease regulatory burdens, offload some of the responsibility of software updates for compliance, and take over the innovation required to offer your users a top-notch product. To learn more about NewCrop’s electronic prescription services, schedule a demo today.