EPCS Insights

What is EPCS



EPCS is the process of electronically prescribing controlled substances, which are defined as drugs with varying degrees of potential for abuse or dependence.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies controlled substances into five schedules based on whether they have a currently accepted medical use, and whether they have a high abuse potential, or likelihood of causing dependence, relative to other drugs. Schedule I drugs are highly addictive and have no medical use, and therefore cannot be prescribed, but Schedule II-V medications can be prescribed by authorized providers.

Because controlled substances can be highly addictive, they are also heavily regulated; the DEA places tight restrictions on how they can be prescribed. Historically, the DEA prohibited EPCS, forcing providers to rely on highly controlled paper-based prescription model.


DEA Ruling on EPCS


In 2010, the DEA finalized an interim final rule allowing EPCS, which promises to deliver a number of benefits, including:

  • Reduced risk of altered, stolen or fraudulent prescriptions
  • Improved patient safety and satisfaction
  • Increased e-prescribing utilization to help meet Meaningful Use requirements
  • Improved prescriber satisfaction
  • Reduced prescription errors and inaccuracies


The video below highlights the benefits of EPCS and provides an overview of the DEA regulatory requirements.




Benefits of EPCS


E-prescribing helps minimize drug diversion and fraud by creating a secure, auditable electronic transmission directly to pharmacies. Secure transmission systems help address America’s prescription drug abuse epidemic, while simultaneously making it easier for patients with legitimate needs to get their medications.


Enabling EPCS securely with Imprivata Confirm ID™


Imprivata Confirm ID is the fast, secure signing solution for EPCS. It is the most comprehensive platform for provider identity proofing, supervised enrollment of credentials, two factor authentication, and auditing and reporting to help healthcare organizations meet the DEA requirements for EPCS. Imprivata Confirm ID integrates with leading EMRs and e-prescribing applications, and it supports the most complete set of two-factor authentication modalities, including Hands Free Authentication, to make EPCS as fast and convenient as possible for care providers.

We also encourage you to visit the EPCS Insights blog for the latest opinions, advice and best practices for EPCS success from various industry experts.