Gabriel MH, Smith JY, Sow M, Charles D, Joseph SB, Wilkins TL. Electronic prescribing of controlled substances: a tool to help promote better patient care. Am J Pharm Benefits. 2016 Jan;8(5):185-9.

OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study is to present the first information available regarding enablement and use by state and area characteristics of electronic prescriptions of controlled substances (EPCS) by prescribers and pharmacy systems in the United States using 15 months of transactional data, from January 2014 to March 2015, from an e-prescribing network.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: The data used in this study represent electronic transactions of controlled substances from all states and the District of Columbia, from Surescripts. Data in this analysis include prescriber enablement for EPCS, pharmacies with certified and audit-approved software enabled to receive EPCS transactions from prescribers, and number of EPCS transactions. In addition, area characteristics were determined using the Area Health Resource File to define metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas.

RESULTS: During the study period from January 2014 to March 2015, pharmacies enabled for EPCS grew minimally, from 78% to 79% nationally. National EPCS enablement among prescribers increased 3.7%, from 0.6% to 4.3%. Differences were observed between metropolitan and rural counties. The percent of transactions nationally grew from 0.16% to 1.8% during the study period, more than a 10-fold increase in transactions.

CONCLUSIONS: There has been progress in the adoption and use of EPCS. However, there are marked differences at the state level and between urban and rural areas. EPCS is an important tool to help prescribers provide better care for their patients. Additionally, EPCS provides a complete electronic record of controlled substance prescriptions, critical for public health and law enforcement initiatives that address the misuse and diversion of opioid medications.

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