Heffernan Bill Expands and Supports Electronic Prescriptions

DOVER – In an effort to bolster patient safety, reduce staffing burdens and better monitor controlled substance prescriptions, Rep. Debra Heffernan has introduced legislation calling for healthcare professionals to utilize electronic prescriptions.

An e-prescription is a prescription that is generated electronically and transmitted as a data file directly to a pharmacy, replacing the hand-written, paper prescription route. House Bill 115, introduced Thursday, would align Delaware with a federal mandate requiring electronic prescribing for controlled substance prescriptions under Medicare’s Part D program, and further expand e-prescribing so it would apply to virtually all medical prescriptions by 2021.

“Electronic prescriptions are a win-win for both the patient and medical community. An e-prescription interface eliminates risks of fraudulent or confusing scripts, and allows doctors to see a patient’s medical history real-time and make informed decisions on their healthcare,” said Rep. Heffernan, D-Brandywine Hundred South.

“Additionally, e-prescribing streamlines the process of paper refills, and is a useful tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic, providing a system to help monitor controlled substance prescriptions and ‘doctor-shopping.’ This technology helps to paint a full picture of health for an individual.”

Data from information technology company Surescripts shows that 65 percent of Delaware prescribers already use e-prescribing across the group’s networks. Under HB 115, podiatrists, dentists, doctors, nurses and optometrists who issue prescriptions would be required to utilize e-prescriptions. However, eligible healthcare professionals would be able to apply for a waiver delaying electronic prescription implementation.

“E-scribing has truly made the job of a pharmacist safer day to day. It takes the guess work out of filling prescriptions that may be illegible. We as a profession can feel better about serving our patients because they are put in a position where they should feel safe about their medications,” said Karen Nagel, a pharmacist with CVS Health in Newark.

“From a work flow standpoint, e-scribing has sped up the process immensely, allowing patients to receive medications quicker without long wait times. The continued increase of e-scribed prescriptions has allowed for benefits for patients, prescribers and pharmacists"

HB 115 was introduced in Thursday’s pre-file.