In case you thought you were done with big practice changes, s/p CPT, DSM-5, think again.
"Starting August 27, 2013, all physicians who prescribe Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances will be required to consult a new online state registry designed to track the prescription and dispensing of controlled substances."
This is from the NYSPA's comment on the new I-STOP law.
Here's a good I-STOP resource, from the Medical Society of the State of NY.
From what I can tell, starting on August 27th of this year, when we write prescriptions for controlled substances, we will have to open up our laptops or ipads or whatever, right there with the patient, and check that the patient is not up to any funny business with his meds.
I'm assuming this because of the phrase, "real time", which is supposed to be defined in regulation.
So, here you are, in your office, and you look up the patient on the registry, and you say, "Mr. Patient, it seems you've been diverting your meds, so I can't write that prescription for you. Have a nice day."
I don't know. The level of monitoring is getting out of control. It's like legislative OCD. And it carries such righteous indignation. We're going to purge the country of the evil of prescription drug abuse. Yeah, okay. It's a problem. But it doesn't have to be the Spanish Inquisition.
And it's one more way the government is insinuating itself into the room with the patient. Others include implying the psychiatrist is not doing a good job unless the patient is filling out checklists, and requiring patient reviews (see this post).
But that's not all. Starting on December 31, 2014, ALL prescriptions will need to be submitted electronically. I was trying to figure out how to implement this, and I know, from risk management classes, that electronic medical records are a no-no, since, even if you can guarantee security (and really, you never can), if the data is stored in the cloud, you don't know who owns it. So I figured there're going to be some problems with e-rx's, and I called my carrier to find out if they have any advice about potential pitfalls, etc. They didn't have a lot of information, but referred me to the AMA's website, for A Clinician's Guide to Electronic Prescribing, which was actually not that easy to find through the site, and I ended up googling it.
What WAS relatively easy to find was their e-prescribing learning center, where you can learn about how great e-rx is, and how it will solve the age-old problem of illegible prescriptions. You can also learn about how much it will cost you to implement and maintain your e-rx system. In fact, it'll walk you through a series of questions to help you determine which system is best for your practice. And then it will give you a list of e-rx systems that meet your needs.
I tried it, and I answered all questions on the "no frills" end, i.e., I don't want any advanced features, I don't want an EMR to go with it, etc. It came up with 3 recommended systems:
Relayhealth Escript at $600, no demo available
Care360 Physician Portal 2008.3, at $240, no demo available, and
InfoScriber, version 115, at $600, no demo available
Now, I didn't try to look this up, but I'm willing to bet that the AMA has financial connections with all these systems, and any others it spits out. It certainly didn't refer me to Practice Fusion, which is free, comes with an, also free, EMR which you don't have to use if you don't want to, and is ranked #1 for both e-rx vendors, and EHR based e-rx vendors, by the Black Book Rankings.
Bottom line: I signed up for Practice Fusion (no, they're not paying me to write this), and I'm in the process of being verified for the e-rx (apparently, you have to do that). I'll let you know how it goes.
As I was writing this, it occurred to me that once we start e-prescribing controlled substances, we'll be taking diversion of these substances out of the hands of individuals who have to hustle to get hold of a one-month supply of meds, and placing it in the hands of anyone savvy enough to hack the system. Who could do that? Oh, I don't know, maybe a large scale crime organization, or your average computer science major at MIT. Goodbye, diversion in dribs and drabs, hello big-time diversion.