EPCS, PDMP, and CMS Deadlines: Are You Ready?

December 2, 2021

Nick Barger, PharmD

EPCS, PDMP, and CMS Deadlines: Are You Ready?

In this fast-changing regulatory environment, electronic health record (EHR) vendors need to stay ahead of numerous state and federal deadlines to ensure providers are compliant. By doing so, you also help them avoid negative impacts on patient care. Here’s the latest on mandates, standards, and legislation that should be on your radar.

EPCS and PDMP: Preventing Patient Harm

It’s easy to understand why electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS) and prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) have been the subject of intense focus. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that drug overdose deaths surpassed 100,000 in a 12-month period for the first time. That figure is up 29% from the 74,679 overdose deaths reported in the previous 12-month period.

We were making good progress fighting the opioid epidemic until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. A recent DrFirst survey revealed that over two-thirds of respondents felt the pandemic made their mental health worse. At the same time, lockdowns made it harder for patients to visit healthcare providers or seek other sources of support. The severity of the opioid abuse problem and the tragic increase in overdose deaths make it more imperative than ever to ensure providers have the information they need to identify patients who are at risk of misusing these dangerous drugs.

While most states already require EPCS, new milestones are approaching quickly. On January 1, 2022, the following eight states will require EPCS, and California and Michigan will require all prescriptions to be sent electronically—controlled and non-controlled substances:

  • California
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • Utah
  • Washington

With these deadlines right around the corner, be sure your EHR includes the tools providers need for compliance with their state mandates.

Up and Running with SCRIPT2017

Migration to the SCRIPT2017 standard in September 2021 marked a milestone that pushed the industry toward more consistent and complete e-prescription transactions. By increasing the number of characters for patient instructions from 140 to 1,000, prescribers are no longer constrained to a small set of directions or forced to pick up the phone or send a fax for detailed prescriptions that require complex directions or special instructions for the pharmacist.

We have already started to see the benefits of SCRIPT2017, with three times more complex medications being prescribed electronically today than just 12 months ago—evidence that prescribers are taking advantage of these expanded capabilities.

Delayed Compliance Date for SUPPORT Act

The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R.6) takes a two-pronged approach to combating the opioid epidemic by making PDMP funding available to every state and requiring providers who take care of Medicare Part D patients to electronically prescribe controlled substances. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has delayed the compliance date to January 1, 2023, but don’t wait to provide EPCS and implement the enhanced identity proofing and second factor identification that’s required to sign controlled substance prescriptions.

Next Up: Electronic Prior Authorization

With the electronic routing of prescriptions mostly taken care of, CMS is now closing the loop on other types of electronic transactions. Medicare Part D payers will soon be required to use electronic prior authorization and unify standards to SCRIPT2017. For providers, this means prior authorization will be available electronically, streamlining the process and enabling more efficient care delivery.

Keeping track of new legislation and requirements can be a daunting task, but you don’t have to do it alone. DrFirst integrates these solutions into your EHR, delivering an in-workflow experience for users. See how to partner with us for success.

About Nick Barger, PharmD
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Nick Barger, PharmD, is Vice President, Core E-Prescribing at DrFirst.