Is It Time to Modernize the EPCS (ePrescribing of Controlled Substances) Regulations?

While ePrescribing has basically gone mainstream with most doctors and pharmacies (Watch the video below for the little talked about secret of ePrescribing “adoption”), there’s been a challenge getting the same kind of adoption of ePrescribing when it comes to controlled substances or EPCS as it’s called.  This is not a surprise since in order to do EPCS, it requires much stricter verification and identification to ensure the DEA who oversees controlled substances can track and verify that the prescription is legitimate.

While most people understand the need for stricter rules in regards to EPCS, it’s worth realizing that the DEA created the EPCS regulations almost a decade ago back in 2010.  A lot of things have changed when it comes to technology and security in the last decade.

The good news is that the DEA realizes this as well and has reopened the comment period on the ECPS interim final rule.  In response to this comment period, DrFirst put together a number of comments on how they think ECPS could have improved usability for doctors while still maintaining the security standards needed for controlled substances.

Since this is an important discussion to really understand, I sat down with Cam Deemer, President of DrFirst to learn more about EPCS and ePrescribing and why they made the various recommendations they did to the DEA.  In the video below, we discuss the following EPCS suggestions:

  • Incorporate current industry guidelines and standards
  • Allow two authentication factors on one device
  • Adopt innovative alternatives to two-factor authentication
  • Clarify identity-proofing requirements
  • Update requirements for biometrics

What’s been your experience with ePrescribing controlled substances.  Are there other changes you think need to be made to make EPCS better?  We’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments.

Learn more about DrFirst:

This article is part of the #HealthIT100in100

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About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.