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E-Prescribing Controlled Substances

Posted Mar 29 2010 3:00am
Last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration released its long awaited Interim Final Rule on e-Prescribing of Controlled Substances

It's 334 pages long, but the most important portion is section § 1311.115 which describes the need for two factor authentication when prescribing controlled substances. Here's the detail

(a) To sign a controlled substance prescription, the electronic prescription application must require the practitioner to authenticate to the application using an authentication protocol that uses two of the following three factors:
(1) Something only the practitioner knows, such as a password or response to a challenge question.
(2) Something the practitioner is, biometric data such as a fingerprint or iris scan.
(3) Something the practitioner has, a device (hard token) separate from the computer to which the practitioner is gaining access.
(b) If one factor is a hard token, it must be separate from the computer to which it is gaining access and must meet at least the criteria of FIPS 140-2 Security Level 1, as incorporated by reference in § 1311.08, for cryptographic modules or one-time-password devices.
(c) If one factor is a biometric, the biometric subsystem must comply with the requirements of § 1311.116.

In a previous blog, I wrote about the many technologies which support strong authentication .

For e-Prescribing of controlled substances BIDMC will investigate 3 approaches

*The use of fingerprint biometrics using web-based software from Bio-Key as described in my cool technology blog .

*The use of hard tokens such as those provided by RSA .

*The use of cell phones as a two factor authentication device such as sending a PIN number via SMS after each e-prescribing session. Anakam has a complete suite of tools to implement this workflow.

Although there will be some burden/inconvenience imposed on clinicians through the use of two factor authentication, I believe it will ultimately save time. Why?

Today's e-prescribing workflow is fractured. I can write for Lipitor with fully electronic NCPDP 8.1 formatted, vocabulary controlled, end to end secure transactions. However I write for Oxycontin with a pen and paper. I have to split my time between a screen and a pen for the same encounter with the same patient depending on the drug I'm writing for. In the Emergency department, approximately 30% of all prescriptions are for controlled substances (i.e. pain control after trauma).

With fully electronic workflows, I can write for all meeds, digitally sign the enter order set, get a PIN sent to my cell phone in 2 seconds and then send the transactions to the pharmacy of the patient's choice without a pen, paper or hassle.

I look forward to our controlled substance e-prescribing pilots. Ultimately it will be a win/win/win for patients, providers, and pharmacies.
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