Have You Adopted Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances?


Post by Jaimin Patel


Vice President IAM Program Management, Caradigm

When regulations for Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS) were introduced in 2010, more than 12 million people reported using prescription painkillers non-medically, and the number of painkillers being prescribed could have medicated every American adult for a month straight. [1] In response to the volume of both the abuse and prescribing of controlled substances, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) set several regulatory requirements for healthcare practitioners and organizations that want to prescribe controlled substances by electronic means.

Initially, many providers were concerned about the strict security mandates. To be able to prescribe controlled substances electronically, the DEA requires a secure, auditable chain of trust for the entire process. In addition, the financial and IT resources required to implement the appropriate solutions for EPCS can be challenging for smaller organizations.

With only 1% of e-prescribers being enabled for EPCS as of December 2013, adoption was a concern as prescription abuse remained a prominent societal issue. [2] In 2014, almost 50,000 people died of drug-induced causes in the United States. [3] In 2015, opioids alone killed more than 33,000 people. [4] The unavoidable reality of opioid abuse in society led to additional state laws and regulations following the DEA mandate in 2010, which resulted in broader EPCS adoption. As of September 2016, 20.2% of e-prescribing providers were enabled for EPCS. [5]

Caradigm offers an integrated and comprehensive solution for EPCS workflows that is a seamless extension of our industry-leading Identity and Access Management (IAM) portfolio. Caradigm’s Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) solution for EPCS offers a variety of integrated authentication options ranging from biometric fingerprints, hard & soft token authentication, as well as mobile authentication. These options allow your organization to implement the best authentication solution to meet your prescribers’ needs.

The DEA requires identity proofing for prescribers that access EPCS controls within an electronic medical record (EMR). Caradigm Provisioning Identity Management ensures that appropriate checks and balances are applied for an organization before granting a prescriber EPCS rights within an EMR. Further, when the prescriber no longer needs EPCS privileges, Caradigm Provisioning Identity Management can seamlessly update these permissions in the EMR while notifying appropriate members in the organization. This integrated solution ensures that no unauthorized access is granted for prescribers.

Caradigm’s EPCS solution has been deployed at number of sites where users are benefiting from integrated Single Sign-On for fast and efficient access into their applications and MFA for EPCS workflows.

Overall, it’s hard to argue that EPCS is anything but a positive for the healthcare industry, and any organizations that have not adopted a solution for EPCS should act now. E-prescribing is a tool that increases efficiency, prevents the likelihood of fraud, and reduces the risk of controlled prescription errors. For additional information, please visit our EPCS page.

[1] http://www.cdc.gov/VitalSigns/PainkillerOverdoses/index.html

[2] http://www.ajmc.com/journals/issue/2014/2014-11-vol20-sp/adoption-of-electronic-prescribing-for-controlled-substances-among-providers-and-pharmacies

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr65/nvsr65_04.pdf

[4] https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

[5] https://www.healthit.gov/opioids/epcs