Category: News & Events
October 10 2015
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Nebraska has the lowest rate of deaths due to prescription painkillers in the nation. Meanwhile, Cornhusker doctors lead the nation in their use of electronic prescribing for these medications, a move that experts say helps combat prescription fraud and abuse.


In September, Vermont became the last state to legalize the electronic prescription of controlled substances (EPCS). The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published legislation in 2010 that allowed for the option of writing controlled substance prescriptions electronically. Each state had to pass its own regulations about EPCS. Previously, all prescriptions had to be handwritten and given to the pharmacist in person. Not only is EPCS more convenient to the patient, it’s also a better way to stop prescription fraud due to the extra layer of encryption. Plus, electronic prescribing (e-prescibing) through an electronic medical record (EHR) adds safety checks for drug interactions and allergies.

Over an eight-month period in 2014, Nebraska Methodist Health System implemented Cerner’s EPCS solution starting with their employed clinic providers. By 2014, all three hospitals and 50 clinics were live. Nebraska Methodist engaged a range of clinicians, office staff and lawyers during the transition. It was important to embed the EPCS solution into Cerner’s Millennium EHR to ensure patient safety, maintain provider access levels and configure reporting. One of the biggest lessons Nebraska Methodist learned was to involve and communicate with local pharmacies around the implementation of an EPCS solution.

In accordance with DEA regulations, the team focused on registering and approving all providers to be compliant and able to write scheduled medication prescriptions electronically. In addition, Nebraska Methodist had to ensure a two-factor authentication (password, token, fingerprint, etc.) was in place to submit prescriptions containing controlled substances. E-prescribe usage continues to grow in both clinics and hospitals, with roughly 37,300 prescriptions e-prescribed in September alone. This has helped Nebraska have the lowest prescription painkiller death rate per 100,000 people in the United States. The health system saw its overall e-prescribing rate jump from 42 percent to 91.7 percent since implementing EPCS.

Marie Kozel, service executive for clinical informatics, said that the implementation was a triple win for Nebraska Methodist: “Patients aren’t wasting time in the pharmacy waiting for prescriptions. Clinicians and support staff no longer have to hunt down paper prescriptions. And, their failure rate of prescriptions being submitted is less than 1 percent.”