N.Y. Medical Groups Ask for Extension on E-Prescribing Requirement

January 30, 2015 in News

Eighteen medical organizations in New York have sent a letter to state officials asking for a one-year extension on a state mandate that all prescriptions be made electronically, Buffalo Business First reports. The law is set to go into effect on March 27.

Background

The measure was adopted as part of New York’s Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act (Drury, Buffalo Business First, 1/27).

The I-STOP Act requires physicians to check the state Department of Health’s Prescription Monitoring Program Registry before prescribing or dispensing drugs that are commonly misused. Pharmacists are able to check the database before dispensing drugs and are required to report certain medications that they dispense (iHealthBeat, 2/4/14).

Details of Extension Request

In the letter, the organizations raised concerns over electronic health record certification issues, the Syracuse Post-Standard reports. Specifically, they wrote that many EHR systems lack proper federal certification for electronic prescribing of controlled substances (Mulder, Syracuse Post-Standard, 1/26).

The organizations wrote that the lack of certification “is quite concerning for all prescribers, particularly large group and institutional prescribers whose systems must be tested and re-tested to remove operational flaws before the installation and implementation of software updates” (New York medical groups’ letter, 1/8).

The letter noted that some providers also have raised concerns about the cost of implementing e-prescribing, particularly for smaller practices and older providers who are nearing retirement (Buffalo Business First, 1/27).

In addition, Joseph Maldonado — president-elect of the Medical Society of the State of New York, which signed the letter — said many physicians incorrectly think the rule only applies to those who prescribe narcotics (Syracuse Post-Standard, 1/26).

Maldonado also noted that requiring e-prescriptions could present a challenge for patients who use paper prescriptions to find lower-priced medications.

State’s Response

The New York State Department of Health said it has been sharing information and guidance about the transition for three years.

Under the law, the health department can issue exemptions to providers in instances of technological limitations and economic hardship. Specifically, exemptions could be granted in cases where:

  • Temporary technological or electronic failure prevents e-prescribing;
  • The patient could not obtain the medication in a timely manner if the prescription is written electronically; and
  • An out-of-state pharmacy would dispense the prescription (Syracuse Post-Standard, 1/26).
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