Do we really need an extension on the New York ePrescribing mandate?

As most of you are aware at this point, there is a mandate for all providers in New York State to begin prescribing electronically (eRX) beginning March 27, 2015.

This includes dental providers as well. I recently read an article that describes how some New York providers are seeking an extension for this mandate. This is unfortunate because there are a number of proven benefits, both to the patient and provider, with ePrescribing.

The main reasons for seeking an extension listed in the article are:

1) There is not enough time to be compliant and have systems in place by March 27

2) Providers must first have electronic health records in place

3) Systems are complicated and expensive to get in place

As to the first point, this mandate has been in place for a number of months and, having been involved with EHR technology for the past decade, I’ve found that there are always providers that fight the switch to electronic technology tooth and nail. Change is tough. So, what is a fair period to incorporate ePrescribing technology? Bottom line is that with those providers that are resistant, it won’t matter anyway.

The second point that claims a provider must have an electronic health record system in place is not completely accurate. Yes, it is true that most EHR vendors have worked with ePrescribing vendors to incorporate eRX in their electronic health records. And, in the long run from a workflow standpoint, this is ultimately the way to go. However, there is low-hanging fruit, and there are vendors that offer standalone ePrescribing solutions without having to have an EHR to help facilitate compliance with the mandate. For example, Henry Schein recently announced a standalone version of ePrescribing for New York dentists and other vendors have similar offerings.

Regarding the third point that systems are complicated and expensive to get in place: If you already have an EHR, chances are that ePrescribing is just a simple add-on module. And for those of you that don’t have EHR, which is the case for most dental providers, typically the standalone versions mentioned are cloud based, easy to install and fairly inexpensive. So, you can satisfy the mandate now with a simple solution and transition to a full EHR with ePrescribing when the time comes.

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