Get Ready: Maryland’s E-Prescribing Mandate Starts January 1

December 2, 2021

Colin Banas, M.D., M.H.A.

Get Ready: Maryland’s E-Prescribing Mandate Starts January 1

When the ball drops at midnight on January 1, 2022, it means more than a new year. It’s also when Maryland’s law mandating electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS) goes into effect.

Maryland is in good company, as it’s one of 34 states with e-prescribing mandates, some requiring it for all drugs, others – like Maryland – requiring it only for controlled substances for now.

There is good reasoning behind these laws. E-prescribing has long been recognized for its role in increasing patient safety and healthcare efficiency. And while its use has grown over the years, it still hasn’t achieved universal adoption, especially for EPCS. Currently, Maryland ranks 30th overall among states for the number of prescribers set up for EPCS and should improve its rank as the new law is implemented.

Why EPCS matters

EPCS benefits everyone. E-prescribing helps eliminate medical errors with safety alerts for allergies and potential drug interactions. It also helps pharmacies avoid errors that could be introduced by manually entering prescription information that comes via fax, phone, or paper. Patients appreciate and expect the convenience of not making a special trip to the pharmacy to drop off a prescription.

Families who have lost loved ones to opioid misuse, substance use disorder, and overdose have been passionate advocates for these new mandates because EPCS helps prevent prescription fraud that can contribute to the opioid crisis. DrFirst is proud to have developed and introduced the first-ever EPCS technology in 2010, working with the Massachusetts Department of Health under a waiver from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

With the new law going into effect, physicians and other prescribers will need to determine how it applies to their practices. Every state allows for some exceptions to the mandate. In Maryland, prescribers can be exempted from the requirement if:

  • The prescription is for a patient in a nursing home, assisted living center, hospice, dialysis clinic, or prison
  • They write a low volume of prescriptions
  • They applied for a waiver for economic hardship, technical difficulty outside the prescriber’s control, or other exceptional circumstances, and that waiver has not been rejected

In addition to Maryland’s new EPCS mandate, the federal government’s “Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act,” effective January 2021, required providers to use EPCS for all schedule II-V prescriptions for Part D or Medicare Advantage plans. Like similar state laws, federal law allows for changes and exceptions, which the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services can put in place.

Is your existing technology the right solution for your practice?

Because e-prescribing systems vary in features and functionality, prescribers need to ensure that the solutions they consider are easy to use, efficient, cost-effective, and have robust clinical decision support.

DrFirst™ offers two e-prescribing products that streamline workflow, inform medication reconciliation, and support medication adherence: the web-based Rcopia® software and the mobile app, iPrescribe®. Both solutions provide:

  • Automated safety alerts for potential allergies and drug interactions, based on the patient’s information and DrFirst’s robust medication history
  • Prescription formulary and cost transparency, as well as alternative therapies to consider, based on the patient’s insurance coverage
  • Provider-specific favorites to save keystrokes
  • Prescribing for all medications, including controlled substances
  • In-workflow checking of state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) to help mitigate the opioid crisis

The mobile application, iPrescribe, includes this robust functionality and is available on both Android and iOS platforms.

Learn more about Rcopia and iPrescribe on DrFirst’s website.

About Colin Banas, M.D., M.H.A.
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Colin Banas, M.D., M.H.A. is Chief Medical Officer of DrFirst, and former Internal Medicine Hospitalist and former Chief Medical Information Officer for VCU Health System in Richmond, Virginia.