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What Happens When EPCS Fails

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Electronic prescriptions (e-prescriptions) have revolutionized the healthcare sector to a great extent. Time efficiency and accuracy are critical elements in providing care, and e-prescriptions have substantially saved patients, physicians, and pharmacists’ time and money. Compared to paperwork prescriptions, e-prescribe has significantly improved patients’ confidence in care providers and enabled pharmacists to offer correct medications. When you prescribe a controlled substance on paper, there is a high chance for the patient to alter the prescription.

Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substance (EPCS) was established to eliminate tampering with paper prescriptions. EPCS allows digitization and tracking of the prescription by physicians and pharmacists to eliminate fraud and dispensation of an unprescribed controlled substance to the public. But is EPCS a perfect system? Unfortunately, the system is far from perfect, and its failure can have dire effects on patients, healthcare, and pharmacy.

This article will explain the possible effects of EPCS failures and how clinicians can avoid such a scenario. 

Effects of EPCS Failure

Failure of any system in healthcare can lead to significant negative effects on all parties involved. Occasionally such errors occur due to technical error or human negligence in handling the systems. Error or failure in EPCS can substantially affect cost health and efficiency. Here is what happens when EPCS failure occurs:

Increased Cost

When the EPCS fails, you risk undercharging or overcharging for a controlled medication. And there are multiple types of related costs for your local pharmacists that may accrue when your EHR or standalone system fails. Pharmacies are often responsible for the transaction cost involved in e-prescription processing. 

Failure in the system may lead to incorrect or duplicate prescriptions. When this happens, the pharmacy may not detect any error in the system and end up giving the patient a duplicate or wrong prescription. The patient’s insurance can only reimburse a single prescription. Insurance companies are always keen on such errors to deny reimbursement for the medication or the entire treatment process. When this happens, your organization must cater to the treatment cost while the pharmacy may incur a prescription cost.

When the prescription cost is significantly high, the pharmacy can file a lawsuit against your organization, especially when the failure came from your clinicians’ negligence.

Of course, the time required for pharmacists and clinicians to address EPCS failure has substantial dispensation costs. When your EPCS system fails, resulting in duplicate or wrong prescriptions, you will take considerable time addressing the problem. This involves the time needed to serve more patients and dispense more drugs by pharmacies, resulting in additional costs. 

Reduced Efficiency

EPCS failure can lead to reduced efficiency for clinicians and pharmacists. For example, when a system failure results in the wrong dispensation, you can spend considerable time investigating the source of failure to safely prescribe and dispense medication to patients. This can be an important time burden to clinicians. 

Through EPCS, pharmacists may be required to seek clarifications when your e-prescribe system incurs errors in the prescribing process. When pharmacists have to intervene to seek clarification on the controlled drug prescribed for a patient, you must address the matter before serving other patients. In addition, pharmacists have to focus on clarification before dispensing drugs to other patients. This can result in reduced efficiency for your organization and pharmacies as well. 

The effect of problematic workflow on pharmacists is particularly on high rate. When pharmacists spend more time clarifying and correcting errors from EPCS failure, there is less time for communicating with patients. 

Processing Delays for Patients

Prescription for a controlled substance is a critical process. Most patients recommended for these drugs have a critical health issue that requires urgent intervention. Efficiency and accuracy in prescriptions are key to preventing deterioration of the patient’s health.

EPCS failure may put patients’ health at risk. Since e-prescription does not require the patient to physically present the prescription to the pharmacy, patients may arrive at the pharmacy thinking the prescription has already been processed. This can result in frustrations, delays, and worsening of the patient’s health.

The system failure can result in late dispensation by pharmacists. When a pharmacy needs to call back your organization for clarification, patients will have to wait for an investigation and clarification of the correct prescription before getting medication, leading to further prolonged pain. 

Loss of Patients and Pharmacies’ Confidence 

When pharmacists and patients note a consistency in your organizational EPCS failure, you risk losing their confidence in your entity. This would contribute to a reduced number of patients to yours. In addition, local pharmacists would not recommend patients to your clinic for healthcare services. 

As a private practitioner, you risk losing revenue, inability to pay healthcare providers, and being denied insurance claims.

Free Download: A Complete Guide to EPCS. Compliance Made Simple.

How to Avoid Effects of EPCS Failure

System failure can occur in any healthcare in the country. However, your organization must have a proactive mechanism to prevent the effects resulting from the failure. Here is how to prevent the impact resulting in EPCS failure.

Update Your EPCS Software

Many system failures in healthcare occur due to outdated software. When you run software that is not up-to-date, you’re exposed to the risk of failure. Outdated software may not hold data efficiently. Ensuring your healthcare software system is up-to-date prevents failures and the resulting effects.

Contact Pharmacies to Clarify Errors

A system failure would lead to the incorrect duplicate dispensation of drugs by pharmacies. You’re responsible for notifying pharmacists of a system failure in time to prevent dispensing duplicate or inaccurate prescriptions. 

Notifying pharmacies of the failure keeps them alert of any incorrect information on the system. This can reduce misprescription and its effects on patients’ health.

Adopt Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)

Integrating PDMPs with EPCS can help solve the problem of system failure. PDMPs are an essential program in monitoring the prescription of a controlled substance. The high risk of abuse of drugs such as opioids requires close monitoring of the system to prevent failures that may lead to the wrong prescription. This program can help pharmacists receive correct medications even when your EPCS experiences errors. 

Simplify Your Prescribing Process with NewCrop

Prescribing errors and system failure can have significant effects on your organization. However, you can eliminate all issues associated with prescribing if you have effective software. NewCrop software can help equip your prescribing clinicians with the tools to make confident prescriptions for a controlled substance. 

NewCrop facilitates PDMP integration, EHR compliance, and DEA Audits. Our mission is to provide solutions for healthcare practices, including dental, wellness, and medical practice, to manage e-prescriptions. We have partnered with thousands of healthcare offices to manage their electronic prescriptions through EHR, while hundreds of others use NewCrop in standalone e-prescriptions.

Contact us to schedule a demo.