I-STOP? Maybe not.

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 By Michael Burger, Senior Consultant

When passed in 2013, NY’s I-STOP legislation was touted as a bellwether for patient safety, EHR adoption and interoperability. The law requires prescribers, effective August, 2013 to check the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) database before prescribing narcotics and for prescribers, effective March 27, 2016, to transmit all prescriptions electronically to pharmacies.

In response to push back from the provider community that they and their technology vendors weren’t ready, NY pushed back the original March, 2015 start of the ePrescribing rule to March, 2016. In 2015, the lack of readiness was in large part because of the special certification requirements for both EHRs and prescribers to allow electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS).

The clock continues to tick towards the March, 2016 deadline. Surescripts, the EDI network that provides ePrescribing connectivity between prescribers and pharmacies, recently reported in a press release: “In New York, 27 percent of total prescribers are enabled to digitally prescribe controlled substances and 58 percent of prescribers are actively transmitting electronic prescriptions in general.”

Those statistics don’t bode well for the March deadline. With less than 40 days to go, 42% of prescribers are NOT ePrescribing at all and of the 58% that are, only half are EPCS-enabled.

At an industry conference in late 2014, we heard that roughly 50% of prescribers in NY were ePrescribing. While some progress has been made since 2014, there is an increase of only 8% - and this in a year where ePrescribing was to be mandatory.

There’s still time for NY prescribers to get compliant. In anticipation of the 2016 deadline, all of the major EHR vendors doing business in NY offer ePrescribing, and all are certified for EPCS. Prescriber apathy remains as the primary hurdle in meeting NY’s ePrescribing goal.

There are so many long-known benefits of ePrescribing, including efficiency and patient safety, it’s hard to imagine that prescribers would still be hesitant to adopt this tried and true technology. Many eyes are on the results in NY, and other states are expected to follow – requiring PDMP review for controlled substances and requiring ePrescribing. Hopefully the resounding success of I-STOP will serve as a model.

Here’s to a busy 36 days for EHR and ePrescribing software vendors, as prescribers scramble to get credentialed and trained.