New e-prescribing mandates begin Jan. 1

Coming next week for ISMA members:
iPrescribe by DrFirst

To assist members in complying with new electronic prescribing guidelines, ISMA is partnering with DrFirst to offer its e-prescribing tool, iPrescribe, as a benefit of membership. iPrescribe works with your EHR (or independently if you don’t have an EHR), is easy to use and is accessible through a cellphone application. Check here next week for details!

Two laws passed by the Indiana General Assembly have requirements that go into effect Jan. 1 and include mandates for prescribing controlled substances.

1. Mandatory INSPECT query before an opioid or benzodiazepine is prescribed. This requirement was passed in SEA 221 (2018), and is already in effect for multiple settings, including for practitioners with INSPECT-integrated EHRs; pain management clinics; and hospitals. The law now applies to all controlled substance registration holders starting Jan. 1. There are some limited exceptions to this requirement. For example, a practitioner is not required to obtain information about a patient who is subject to a pain management contract from INSPECT more than once every ninety (90) days. In addition, the requirement does not apply if the patient is recovering or in the process of completing a prescription that was prescribed by another practitioner while still being treated as an inpatient or in observation status.

To help make this requirement less burdensome, the INSPECT program is available to help integrate INSPECT data into your EHR system so this query can be conducted rapidly. More information on the INSPECT Integration Initiative is available here. If you have problems contacting the INSPECT program or receiving a response from the agency through the link above, please let ISMA know immediately by emailing

2. Mandatory e-prescribing of controlled substances. In 2018, President Donald Trump signed the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (known as the “SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act”). Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, this law requires a prescription for a covered Medicare Part D drug under a prescription drug plan for a schedule II, III, IV, or V controlled substance to be “transmitted by a health care practitioner electronically.”

In the spirit of this federal law, the Indiana General Assembly passed a similar mandate in 2019 that applies to all controlled substances (not just those prescribed for Medicare Part D enrollees). However, Indiana’s law is significantly more flexible and includes several exceptions, including for when “the prescriber cannot transmit an electronically transmitted prescription due to . . . the technological inability to issue a prescription electronically, including but not limited to failure to possess the requisite technology.” For more information on the exceptions available under the law, see ISMA’s E-Prescribing State Law Guidance.

Additional legal resources on prescribing controlled substances are available on ISMA’s website.