New York delays mandatory EPCS e-prescribing for a year


With only 15% of New York's healthcare providers ready for e-Rx of controlled substances, New York legislators have agreed to push back the March 27 deadline by one year.

With only about 12% of healthcare providers in New York ready for electronic prescribing for controlled substances, New York legislators decided to delay the March 27 deadline for mandatory e-prescribing for providers and pharmacies for another year.

According to The Associated Press, Assemblyman John McDonald, a pharmacist, sponsored a bill, A04274, to delay mandatory e-prescribing in the state until March 27, 2016, which would give doctors and other healthcare prescribers and electronic health-record vendors time to meet the Drug Enforcement Agency’s requirements for electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS).

“Unfortunately, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency moved slowly in certifying vendors who are authorized to transmit electronic prescriptions for controlled substances,” the bill stated. “As a result, many doctors and other prescribers around the state, many of whom have electronic records and e-prescribing capability, have contracts with vendors who have not yet received the necessary federal certification. This legislation will provide additional time.”

The bill to delay mandatory e-prescribing was approved in late February by the state Senate and Assembly. As of March 2, the legislation still needed to be signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.


More pharmacies are ready

As of January 2015, 12.33% of healthcare providers in an ambulatory setting (6,027 of 48,876) were ready for EPCS and 65% of pharmacies (3,168 of 4856) were EPCS-enabled in New York, according to data from Surescripts, a large health information network that connects pharmacies, providers, benefit managers, and health information exchanges.  

Source: Surescripts


















For the month of January, only just over 21,000 EPCS transactions between providers and pharmacies occurred in the Surescripts network, compared to a total of more than 7.3 million electronic prescription transactions in New York, according to Surescripts.

For the month of January, only slightly more than 21,000 EPCS transactions occurred between providers and pharmacies in the Surescripts network, compared to a total of more than 7.3 million electronic prescription transactions in New York, according to Surescripts.

Pharmacies took the lead with EPCS just as they did with traditional e-prescribing, said David Yakimischak, Surescripts’ executive vice president and general manager.

“[Pharmacies] made the investments and got ready...which was attractive for the doctors. If the doctors were to go first and there were no pharmacies to talk to, why would they do it?” he said. “So now it is a matter of doctors, EMRs, and provider networks getting ready to do the things they need to do [to become EPCS enabled].” 


Help for providers

Surescripts has launched an education campaign at to help encourage the adoption of EPCS. The company expects to deliver approximately 5 million e-Rxs of controlled substances nationwide this year, which would represent a 400% increase over last year.

Surescripts’ educational campaign includes a step-by-step video guide and helpful tools for practitioners working in solo or small group practices, as well as for practitioners belonging to a health system-affiliated practice.

Each pathway requires completion of four action steps prior to legal transmission of EPCS: EHR software update, ID proofing, two-factor authentication, and setting software access.

“There is an adoption curve [for EPCS] and not everyone comes on all at once. You have your pioneers and early adopters,” Yakimischak said. “We are definitely past the innovators and experimenters and we are into the early adopters, but we have to get past the early adopters and more into the mainstream, to get from single digits of physicians sending [EPCS] to double digits. Once you get to 30%, there is a critical mass and then there is no turning back.”


More EMR vendors now have certified, ready-to-go applications, Yakimischak noted. “Now healthcare practitioners need to get the right version [of software], go through the identity proofing and the second factor of authentication. Then they have to try it and see what they need to do in terms of the workflow in their practices.”

With its educational campaign, Surescripts wants to ease the process of adoption and help drive use by prescribers, Yakimischak said.

CVS Health supports the adoption of EPCS as part of its commitment to help combat prescription drug abuse, according to Mike DeAngelis, CVS/pharmacy’s director of public relations.

“We are supporting Surescripts’ education campaign because raising awareness of EPCS in the prescriber community is critical to increasing adoption and taking advantage of the large percentage of pharmacies that are enabled to accept electronic prescriptions for controlled substances, including CVS/pharmacy,” DeAngelis said in an e-mail to Drug Topics.

“CVS Health is a strong advocate for programs that provide more transparency into controlled substance prescribing, such as the mandatory use of e-prescribing, and establishing interoperability of prescription drug monitoring programs across state lines.

[This article was updated upon confirmation that New York lawmakers agreed to delay the deadline for mandatory EPCS prescribing.]

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