As health information technology (HIT) becomes integrated more and more into the everyday workload of healthcare providers, it has also become an ideal tool for monitoring the use of prescribed controlled substances.
Nearly 15,000 people die every year from overdoses of prescription painkillers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New York State has taken advantage of the increased usability of EHR (Electronic Health Records) to try to control this epidemic.
The New York State legislature passed the I-STOP law in 2012, which mandates electronic prescribing for all controlled substances. Doctors will be sending their prescriptions via EHR over a HIPAA regulated, secure transmission method over the web, directly to the patient’s pharmacy, instead of handwriting them. This move to E-Prescribing helps eliminate alteration and prescription forgery.
Starting on August 27, 2013, doctors and other medically qualified providers must consult the prescription database prior to prescribing Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances, which are drugs that have the potential to act as narcotics that cause psychological or physical dependence and have the potential to be abused, such as opioids. Pharmacists also have access to this prescription registry.
From an EHR standpoint, it is quick and easy to electronically write a prescription, and also illegal for physicians to paper write a prescription for a controlled substance in New York State, with a few exceptions.
The I-STOP law also includes changes that enact a “real-time” monitoring registry which consists of mechanisms that file and track all prescribed controlled drugs into a database.
The law not only cracks down on drug abuse, but will improve the efficiency of health care providers and pharmacies. Unintentional errors in written prescriptions cost the New York health care system about $130 million a year. The E-Prescribing requirement minimizes these medication errors.