Rule change enables e-prescribing of all controlled substances nationwide

All controlled substances now legally can be electronically prescribed in any state, nationwide, after Vermont enacted updated administrative rules on Aug. 28.

While Missouri, in late July, became the last state to pass laws allowing the e-prescribing of controlled substances, according to its state medical association, Vermont, which had already allowed some e-prescribing, limited those efforts to Schedule 3-5 drugs. The Green Mountain State, last Friday, changed its rule to include Schedule 2 controlled substances, such as hydrocodone and morphine.

According to Surescripts CEO Tom Skelton, "throwing out the prescription pad" in lieu of electronic prescribing will help to curb potential fraud and drug abuse.

"Care providers, pharmacies and government officials are working together to combat the prescription drug abuse epidemic that plagues our nation," Skelton said in an announcement touting Vermont's decision.

In May, a progress report published by Surescripts noted that the health information network processed 6.5 billion healthcare data transactions in 2014, topping the volume of transactions handled by American Express and PayPal.

And according to a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services report published in April, if the electronic prescribing (eRx) incentive program is any indication, e-prescribing has been growing steadily.

The report, on trends in the eRx program and the Physician Quality Reporting System, found eligible professionals earned a combined $390,603,021 in incentive payments in the 2013 program year. The number of eligible professionals who qualified for the eRx program increased every year of the five year program, with a total of $171,732,673 in eRx incentives earned in 2013, the last year of the program. This included 259,401 eligible professionals within 54,854 practices. The average eRx incentive payment was $662 per professionals and $3,131 per practice.

In February, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released a guide to help prescribers maximize the benefits of e-prescribing. That same month, Surescripts also published new tools to help prescribers learn more about the e-prescribing of controlled substances.

To learn more:
- here's the rule (.pdf)
- check out the Surescripts announcement
- read the Missouri State Medical Association announcement (.pdf)