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What the New Assembly Bill Means for California Prescribers & Pharmacists

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California passed a new law requiring pharmacists and physicians to have systems that enable them to e-prescribe by January 01, 2022. The new law dictates that all healthcare practitioners must order and dispense prescription drugs in accordance with the Pharmacy Law. According to the Pharmacy Law, a prescription is a written, oral, or electronic data transmission order. It requires electronic prescription data to be transmitted and processed in accordance with the stipulated requirements. 

Beginning January 1, 2022, healthcare practitioners authorized to offer prescriptions will need to have the capability to convey electronic data transmission prescriptions, and pharmacies will need to have the capability to receive the transmissions. Furthermore, the bill would require health care practitioners to convey prescriptions as electronic data transmission prescriptions, except for cases where specified exceptions are met. However, the bill would not require pharmacies to verify that written, oral, or faxed prescriptions satisfy the specified exemptions. 

Additionally, the bill would require pharmacies receiving electronic data transmission prescriptions to immediately notify the issuer if the electronic data transmission prescription is incomplete, fails, or is not appropriately received. Moreover, pharmacies can transfer or forward prescriptions to other pharmacies at the request of the patient. However, the bill would exempt health care practitioners, pharmacists, or pharmacies from these provisions when providing health care services to individuals specified under the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation jurisdiction.  

Exceptions to Electronic Prescribing

Prescribers can issue paper prescriptions directly to patients only in circumstances that qualify as exceptions to the electronic prescribing mandate. The California Assembly Bill 2789 would require that health care practitioners, pharmacists, or pharmacies who fail to meet the applicable requirements declared by this bill be referred to the necessary state professional licensing board for administrative sanctions, as provided. 

However, there are a few exceptions to these electronic prescription requirements. Though not exhaustive, here are those relevant to Nurse Practitioners, Physicians, and Physician Assistants: 

  • The patient resides outside of California.
  • The technology used for electronic transmission is temporarily “down” as a result of technical or other failures, such as a computer crash, power failure, or internet service loss.
  • The Rx is dispensed by a pharmacy outside California.
  • The Rx is issued in an urgent care or hospital ER, and one or more of these conditions exist: The patient lives outside the hospital’s geographic area, or the Rx is issued when the patient’s regular pharmacy is most likely closed.
  • The prescriber is also the Rx dispenser. For example, if you usually dispense medications in your healthcare office consistent with the dispensing pharmacy rules.


Additionally, if the prescriber does not issue an electronic Rx, they must document the reasons in the medical record as soon as possible or within 72 hours of the resolution of the technical issues that thwarted electronic transmission of the Rx. 
 

Suppose the prescriber determines that the patient’s health condition is such that electronic transmission may delay medication and derail the patient’s life. In that case, they are exempted from these requirements.  

However, the rule does not apply to healthcare providers delivering healthcare services to: 

  • Parolee
  • An inmate
  • A minor or youth under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.


Also, healthcare providers must use approved vendors to obtain tamper-resistant forms from safe prescription printer companies. Prescribers may also call in prescriptions for non-controlled substances in circumstances that qualify as exceptions under state laws. Still, healthcare practitioners can only offer a prescription for schedule II drugs in emergency situations. Overall, every healthcare practice and pharmacy must prepare electronic prescriptions for all controlled substances before the January 01, 2022 deadline.
 

Finding the Right Prescribing Software

Electronic prescribing can significantly reduce opportunities for diversion and misuse of controlled substances by removing the use of paper forms that can be lost, stolen, or used illegally. E-prescribing may also help provide timely patient care. 

Prescribing software solutions come with or without the functionality to electronically prescribe controlled substances. Although software solutions that can prescribe controlled substances are more costly due to the additional regulatory compliance costs, you should invest in them if you’re a healthcare practitioner or pharmacist to ensure you’re compliant with the California Assembly Bill 2789. 

Besides, the software must be certified to comply with the 2010 DEA regulation that requires two-factor authentication and identity proofing of prescribers when signing prescriptions. Prescribers can purchase standalone prescribing software or software applications associated with an electronic health record.  

Typically, EHR-based applications enable automation of patient demographic data and attachment of prescriptions to the patient’s treatment record. Moreover, the applications can be added to Curve, Dentrix, Eaglesoft, Carestream, OpenDental, or MacPractice.  

Practice Type, Mobility, and Cost Affect Software Selection

If you’re a dentist, you may need to consider several other factors when choosing prescribing software, including whether or not you need to use the software on IOS, Android, or other mobile platforms. You also need to consider whether you want enhanced software that offers additional features, for instance, the ability to identify drug interactions or drug allergies.  

Additionally, the type of practice may affect software selection. For example, an associate working at more than one office may opt for standalone prescribing software since it’s not tied to any specific EHR. And if your practice has multiple locations utilizing the same EHR, you’ll need a separate user license for every location. 

What the New Rules Mean for You

If you’re a healthcare practitioner in California, you need to begin exploring technologies that can help you get ready for e-prescription before the January 01, 2022 deadline. You must set up an e-prescribe solution to send electronic prescriptions to your patient’s pharmacy of choice.  

NewCrop is a trusted software and services company specialized in providing technology solutions for healthcare practices, including dental, medical, and wellness practices that run and manage electronic prescriptions. Our commitment is to offer the guidance and technological support you need to thrive in today’s healthcare climate. Thousands of healthcare practices and hundreds of EHRs already use NewCrop to manage their e-prescriptions. Contact us today to get started with a free, live demo.