A prescription-writing milestone was quietly set in August 2015 when Vermont became the 50th state to legalize electronic prescribing of controlled substances, making the practice available nationwide.

At that time, however, while 78 percent of pharmacies could accept e-scripts for controlled substances, only 2 percent of physicians were electronically prescribing these schedule II-V narcotics, according to SureScripts, which operates a nationwide electronic prescribing network.

SureScripts has a website that walks through procedures for small practices and delivery systems to assess the readiness of an electronic health record to support e-prescribing of controlled substances, register to be a prescriber and prove identification, assess and implement the necessary two-factor authentication, and set secure access controls.

Guy Lerner, MD, and Karen Lawson, RN at Specialists in Pain Care, a practice in Louisville, Ky., in December 2015 implemented an EPCS module from AdvancedMD, its practice management and electronic health records vendor. Pain specialists frequently prescribe controlled substances and Lerner and Lawson viewed EPCS as safer and more convenient for patients, as well as more secure. That said, electronic prescribing isn’t much faster than using a prescription pad but it has other important advantages, Lerner says.

Prescription information remains in the EHR rather than on a piece of paper that can be altered, and if a pharmacist finds a mistake on a prescription it can be easily fixed in the EHR while the patient is at the pharmacy. If a mistake is found on a paper prescription, the patient often must come back to the pharmacy later.

Also See: E-Prescribing of Controlled Substances Legal Nationwide

Implementation was easy and the practice pretty much set up the EPCS module by themselves, although an AdvancedMD representative was there to assist if needed, Lerner says. Lawson found adapting to electronic prescribing very easy and Lerner says it took one morning for him to get comfortable. “It’s easy to adopt, safe and not disruptive.”

And EPCS has a “wow” factor with patients, Lerner adds. “It looks really cool and no one else is doing it. It looks professional, like, ‘Hey, you guys are on you’re A-game here.’”

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