A Tour of e-Prescribe Programs for Dentists

In recent years the federal government has pushed providers to go electronic with their patient records. Heck, they even developed the EHR incentive program to encourage (bribe) qualified providers to go electronic. The day is coming when this will be required for all healthcare providers. Fortunately, this date keeps being pushed back. I frequently hear (mostly) older dentists ‘threaten’ to retire to avoid making the transition of their practices to paperless environments.

I’m a techie, but I get it – change is hard for some people. What this means though is there is no need for those dentists to pull the plug just yet. The mandatory paperless date keeps getting pushed back.

For the tech-savvy dentist there are e-prescribe options. In 2010 the DEA issued the Interim Final Rule regarding Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS). While dentists will not be able to print and hand their patient a software generated script for HCPs or other schedule IIs using one of several dental software programs this method will still be allowed for prescribing of non-controlled (dangerous) drugs and other than schedule IIs.

There are multiple platforms for EPCS. However, in Texas the only approved platform for practitioners and pharmacies is SureScripts. There are several SureScripts EPCS vendors including Dentrix (version G5), Eaglesoft (version 17), Open Dental (basic and comprehensive functions), and XL Dent. Before jumping on the EPCS providers should contact the pharmacies used by their patients to see if they are set up for EPCS.

In addition to dental software integrated EPCS there are stand-alone EPCS program vendors who are approved by the DEA. Many states, including Texas, use the SureScriptsTM platform, which is pretty remarkable. Without going into great detail about SureScripts the company pulls patient demographic information from several sources to compile and provide medication history information (issued by you and other providers), drug-drug and drug-allergy information, insurance information and more.

I toured DrFirst’s RCopia program, a stand-alone EPCS for those who might be interested in EPCS and are not using an Electronic Dental Record with EPCS capability or may still be using paper records. EPCS programs allow dentists to actually send their scripts directly to the pharmacy of their choice with the click of a button.

I was able to quickly pull up detailed demographic information about patients with minimal data input. The system auto generated their prescription history including both controlled and non-controlled drugs, which would be helpful for taking an accurate medical history because patients always give you their complete history, right?

Inputting new scripts was simple. Users can set up their favorites to expedite the process even more. Practitioners can set up user profiles for their staff to prepare the scripts and do all but sign the scripts, which are easily handled by the practitioners using two forms of security to ensure compliance with DEA requirements. The system has numerous safeguards to minimize forged scripts by staff and eliminates forgery by patients who never handle their scripts.

The DrFirst program provides drug-drug, drug-allergy, diversion alerts when patients request refills before their previous scripts should have run out. Also, pharmacies can request refills without having to call the office or interrupt your day. You have an easy to use dashboard to review and modify or deny refills and otherwise communicate with pharmacists directly.  If you are interested in learning more about DrFirst here is a short video.