The prescription drug epidemic continues to rage on. New laws and education have played a role in keeping the numbers at bay, but the abuse of these drugs have not declined. Healthcare professionals and law enforcement have made incredible strides that have kept the problem from getting worse, but at the same time, the issue is at a plateau. An IT security company called Imprivata Inc. may have a solution to help cut down on the abuse by preventing fraudulent prescriptions.
Unlike common medications which are usually prescribed electronically, almost all prescriptions for controlled substances such as oxycodone and hydrocodone are issued on old-fashioned paper. That gives addicts access to a physician’s signature and prescribing number, making it surprisingly easy to write a fake prescription. If a doctor does not use a certain type of pen, some addicts have even mastered removing the ink from the paper and writing a new prescription they desire. This problem was once out of control, but prescription drug monitoring programs have helped cut back on some of the abuse.
Imprivata Inc. says it has a solution to stop fraudulent paper prescriptions. They are using an electronic prescription system for controlled substances that securely transmits sensitive information from doctors directly to pharmacies. The software, called Confirm ID, is set for release Monday after a trial run last year at 10 healthcare systems.“If you can move controlled substance prescriptions to being only electronic, over time we can have better visibility and control and deal with this fraud,” said Omar Hussain, the company’s chief executive. “It’s a solvable problem.”
The Imprivata software is intended to make it easier for doctors and health care systems to meet federal standards for prescribing controlled substances through an electronic system. Most doctors have stuck to paper for these drugs because the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) requires a series of checks for electronic prescriptions of controlled substances, including additional authentication using either a thumbprint or electronic token. Most of the software systems used by doctors and health care providers do not have that level of security.
Imprivata's system looks to be coming out at the perfect time. Many states including New York, are requiring nearly all prescriptions to be transmitted electronically by the Spring and the federal government is promising to help states improve their prescription drug monitoring programs as well. A huge benefit of their software is that integrates with many existing medical software systems which will be great for physicians. Doctors are busy enough, and with this system they will not have to learn a new program.
“A lot of times when a new electronic health system is introduced, doctors and nurses hate it because they take a huge productivity hit,” Hussain said. “We had to make it easy enough that they don’t prefer the paper system.” Hopefully this will be another step in combating the opiate epidemic.