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HIT Perspectives: Not Current With Eprescribing Law

HIT Perspectives – December 2013

Not Current with ePrescribing Laws and Regulations? Ignore at Your Own Risk

By Tony Schueth, Editor-in-Chief

The regulatory landscape for electronic prescribing (ePrescribing) is constantly changing at the federal and state levels. While many vendors and other stakeholders expend considerable resources to ensure their products comply, they sometimes lack the staffing or resources to keep up or its priority is not high enough to monitor consistently. Plus, we have encountered managers who think it’s a big snooze and blow it off altogether, figuring they’ll learn what they need to know sooner or later. They do so at their own peril.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Nonetheless, keeping current is difficult and tedious to do. For one thing, there are so many players involved—including boards of nursing, pharmacy and medicine, not to mention the state legislatures that enact the laws and the various federal and state agencies involved with regulating controlled substances. Because of this fragmentation, applicable laws, regulations and guidance are not in one place, making it difficult to find changes and spot trends. Interpretation is tricky—the language is mind-numbing, complex and written in legalese, which is a foreign language for most of us. Trained staffing is needed to ensure an accurate reading of the material and that it is explained in a manner in which laypeople can understand and turn into actionable business decisions. Even experts, like Point-of-Care Partners (POCP), must sometimes dig deeply to determine where a particular state stands on a given regulatory matter.

With all these barriers and the need for resource allocation, it’s easy to understand why keeping current with ePrescribing laws is not high on all vendors’ to-do list. What they don’t realize is that ignorance certainly is not bliss. There are many risks and costs to being behind the regulatory curve:

  • Product managers lack the information they need for products to be fully compliant and functional in the marketplace. For example, most states have a controlled substance monitoring program in place. A growing number are requiring prescribers to view it before prescribing controlled substances. This will impact work flow for electronic health records (EHRs).

    Customer service reps spend too much time on regulatory compliance issues.

  • Implementation teams lack the up-to-date, state-specific regulatory information they need to efficiently and effectively enter a new state.
  • Product managers constantly go into crisis mode when creating last-minute patches due to latent information, which costs time and money and aggravates clients.
  • Product development falls behind because regulatory requirements are not known or anticipated. One noteworthy trend is growing traction for ePrescribing of controlled substances. New York is leading the way with its ePrescribing mandate—requiring that all prescriptions be done electronically by March 27, 2015. This and mounting stakeholder pressures will undoubtedly cause other states to reconsider their position.
  • Competitive advantage is lost when more informed competitors get out front.
  • Products are not in sync with certification and other requirements by such intermediaries as SureScripts and Emdeon. Remediation is costly at the back end.
  • Inadvertent missteps are created, which could lead to messy, time-consuming and potentially expensive compliance actions.

    So, how does one keep up and keep kosher? If you have a regulatory group, it could establish a process that checks each state on a consistent basis. You could also outsource this task to a law firm or consulting practice. The challenge with the former is ensuring that the effort remains a high priority; with the latter, it is the expense and expertise.

    Having tried both, POCP has arrived at a solution that we believe is better. We call it the ePrescribing State Law Review. We do the tedious, complicated research so product managers and decision makers don’t have to. The Review provides state-by-state ePrescribing rules for easy implementation. With your subscription, you receive a succinct 50-state road map, quarterly updates and on-demand access to ePrescribing experts to resolve client issues.

    Information within the Review is researched and analyzed by experienced EHR/ePrescribing product management professionals and supported by detailed citations and full-text regulatory clauses in a source document. It is presented in a succinct, summarized format that is easy to read and use. Most importantly, breaking regulatory news alerts are provided.

    The result is a consistent resource for product managers, developers, implementation teams and customer service representatives. Busy product managers can rely on this information to proactively address regulatory changes and direct their time saved toward more competitive product enhancements. Customer service and implementation representatives will be able to anticipate client needs with regard to regulatory compliance. Moreover, the Review is always evolving to meet new market demands.

    For more information or to schedule a demonstration, contact the publisher, Tony Schueth, at 954-346-1999 or erxlawreview@pocp.com.