In an effort to cut back on prescription-drug errors and misuse, providers in the state of New York will be required to issue prescriptions electronically. New York is the first state to require electronic prescribing at the risk of penalty.
The law comes into effect this month amid multiple current efforts to combat and prevent opioid addiction issues, including new prescriber guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, policy changes at the Food and Drug Administration and a Senate-passed bipartisan bill creating state grant programs.
The date for implementation of the New York law had to be pushed back because of software concerns. Minnesota has had the same requirement since 2011 but does not have any enforcement mechanism.
New York's law, called I-Stop, also mandates that providers check prescription monitoring programs before giving patients new prescriptions. That went into effect in 2013.
Providers in rural areas in New York might be hard hit by the new requirement since they have been slower to adopt electronic health records. Often that's because of lacking technology and informatics professionals in those areas, as well as smaller overall budgets, according to the National Rural Health Association.
Electronic prescribing has increased significantly as government requirements for the use of electronic health records have been implemented. In April 2014, about 70% of physicians were prescribing electronically, according to an analysis from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
E-prescribing is touted as a way to reduce medication errors because of illegibility and prevent abuse by tampering with paper prescriptions. The penalty for noncompliance in New York will include fines and civil and criminal penalties.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency legalized e-prescribing of controlled substances such as opioid painkillers in 2010.