Mercy Health Can Now Provide Patients with Convenient and Secure Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances

Mercy Health – a Catholic healthcare ministry serving Ohio and Kentucky – announces that it has deployed the ability for Mercy Health Physicians’ providers to write secure electronic prescriptions for controlled substances (EPCS) for the convenience and safety of patients.

Following a successful trial of EPCS in 2014, it is now available to providers who are part of Mercy Health Physicians in Ohio and Kentucky who regularly prescribe controlled substances, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication, for example. With EPCS, providers use patients’ electronic health records to send secure prescriptions for controlled substances electronically to pharmacies that accept EPCS for filling. Patients can pick up their prescriptions at their convenience.

“The Food and Drug Administration legalized electronic prescriptions for controlled substances in 2010 but the technology has only recently caught up so that our providers can offer these prescriptions safely and securely,” said Stephen Beck, MD, Mercy Health Chief Medical Informatics Officer.

Previously, patients with regular prescriptions for controlled substances, such as children with prescriptions to treat ADHD, had to visit the doctor’s office for a new paper prescription each time they needed a refill of their medication. With EPCS, that’s no longer the case, although patients must still meet requirements to be seen in person by their provider to review their controlled medications at least every 90 days.

“Mercy Health wants to make healthcare easier for patients and EPCS is another way we’re doing that. Aside from their regular 90-day reviews or routine appointments, patients don’t need to come into the office for a written prescription, don’t have to wait for the doctor to be in the office or have a paper prescription they can lose,” added Dr. Beck. “I know many working parents whose children are on medication for ADHD, for example, for whom this advance will make healthcare more convenient and secure.”

EPCS increases patient and community safety, too. Doctors document everything discreetly in the patient’s medical record, reducing the chance for transcription errors. EPCS also cuts down instances of copying and forging prescriptions since the doctor’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) number is transferred electronically and not on a paper prescription.

The DEA has put in place stringent security requirements involving several layers of authentication for EPCS-enabled providers to further safeguard against abuse. Mercy Health also monitors e-prescriptions for controlled substances daily to look for any irregularities and all providers using EPCS review a report listing the controlled medications they’ve prescribed to ensure the record is accurate.

“We encourage all patients of Mercy Health Physicians with prescriptions for controlled substances to talk with their doctor about getting their prescriptions through EPCS,” said Dr. Beck. “In Ohio, 82% of pharmacies can accept prescriptions through EPCS but only 1% of providers can offer this service to their patients. In Kentucky, 65% of pharmacies accept the prescription but less than one-half of one percent of providers offer the service.”

Mercy Health intends to expand provider access to EPCS to its outpatient physicians, followed by inpatient physicians and then to physicians affiliated with Mercy Health. It intends to complete the rollout by the end of 2015.

Mercy Health (formerly Catholic Health Partners) is the largest health system in Ohio and one of the largest health systems in the United States, employing more than 32,000 employees in Ohio and Kentucky. With $6 billion in assets, Mercy Health operates more than 450 points of care, including 23 hospitals, eight senior living communities, five hospice programs and seven home health agencies. Truven Health Analytics (formerly Thomson Reuters) consistently rates Mercy Health among the nation’s top health systems for clinical quality and efficiency. In keeping with its mission, Mercy Health provided $374.7 million in community benefit services in 2013. Mercy Health’s bonds are rated AA- by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, and A1 by Moody’s. Mercy Health also partners with HealthSpan which provides health maintenance organization and insurance coverage. Mercy Health is a founding member of Health Innovations Ohio which focuses on providing health services that result in higher quality, better health and greater value. For more information, visit www.mercy.com or connect with Mercy Health on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter @LivingMercyHlth.