Atrius Health recently joined several organizations in providing testimony to strengthen and clarify regulations proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) related to Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS). The proposed changes are part of the provisions of Chapter 208 of the Acts of 2018 to address the state’s opioid crisis and are designed to increase the security of prescription medications.
Electronic prescribing, also known as e-prescribing, is when a doctor writes a prescription and sends it directly to the pharmacy through a secured system. E-prescribing has many advantages which include:
Atrius Health launched its electronic prescribing initiative for Schedule II through Schedule V controlled substances more than a year ago. Since that time, we have been rolling this program out to all of our practice locations. The law requires that all prescription medications, regardless of their abuse potential, be electronically prescribed. Although we agree with the premise of the new law, there are a number of circumstances that we and others urge DPH to consider before finalizing the regulations. Those conditions include the following:
Our testimony also recommends that DPH incorporate language similar to the New York State Department of Health, which enacted similar requirements several years ago. The New York State regulations acknowledge that current standards allow only a limited number of characters for the prescription instructions and permit exceptions to the EPCS requirements in those situations when more detailed instructions are required.
Atrius Health also suggests that DPH incorporate language into its final regulations that exclude the requirement that pharmacists must verify a practitioner has received a waiver or is exempt from the EPCS requirements. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for pharmacists to verify these waivers or exemptions while still ensuring that patient care is not compromised.
We believe these modifications will still support the safe electronic prescribing of medications while also allowing for conditions that are beyond the prescribers control.