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Emdeon Announces Support for Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances Using the DEA-Allowed Quicker-to-Market Approach

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Aug. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Emdeon Inc. (NYSE: EM), a leading provider of healthcare revenue and payment cycle management and clinical information exchange solutions, today announced its support for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA's) quicker-to-market option for electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS).

On June 1, 2010, prescribers became legally allowed to electronically transmit controlled substance prescriptions to the pharmacy of a patient's choice, and pharmacies were allowed to electronically receive these prescriptions so long as certain required security measures were in place. Over a year after the DEA Interim Final Rule (IFR) enabling EPCS became effective, the healthcare industry still has not completed implementation of the electronic prescribing software systems necessary to transmit controlled substance prescriptions pursuant to the IFR. Emdeon believes many of the challenges faced by prescribers and pharmacies may be addressed expeditiously through an option that is currently offered within the IFR.

The DEA gave two options in the IFR to allow for EPCS between prescribers and pharmacies. One option, which has been referred to in the industry as "Option 1," entails end-to-end public key infrastructure where the prescription is digitally signed with the prescriber's digital certificate and that signature is verified by the pharmacy using the prescriber's public key. Option 1 requires a coordination of effort between prescriber and pharmacy to capture, transmit, receive, validate and store the digital signature assigned to each prescription. Because the technology requirements related to Option 1 are complex and standards continue to be developed, the required software upgrades may be delayed behind other regulatory compliance initiatives for many pharmacies.

The other DEA-allowable option, which has been referred to in the industry as "Option 2," requires the transmission of a flag from the prescriber to the pharmacy indicating that a controlled substance prescription has been sent by a DEA-certified prescriber using a two-factor authentication method. The digital signature is validated, captured and stored, all by the prescriber, but not transmitted to the pharmacy. This option requires the pharmacy or last intermediary to digitally sign the transaction as received to verify that the data has not been modified after receipt. Option 2 utilizes currently available software and industry standard transaction data to confirm the authenticity of the transmission resulting in easier compliance with the IFR.

"While Emdeon supports both options, in an effort to speed the implementation of EPCS, we broadly support Option 2 as an initial phase of implementation," said Mark Lyle, senior vice president of pharmacy services for Emdeon. "We believe that Option 2 will enable prescribers and pharmacies to adopt EPCS more quickly and still meet the requirements of the IFR."

As the only ePrescribing network with market-based experience in transmitting EPCS, Emdeon through its eRx Network is already demonstrating the achievability of EPCS and its potential impact on healthcare. Emdeon is participating in a multi-year research project with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), DrFirst and several other leading industry providers to support this project for EPCS.

"Prescribers and pharmacies are excited about closing the loop on ePrescribing by implementing EPCS," said Peter Kaufman, chief medical officer for DrFirst. "We support the industry's efforts in promoting this quick-to-market option to allow broader adoption of ePrescribing."

Emdeon's secure and interoperable network is the largest financial and administrative healthcare information exchange in the nation. Clinical exchange volumes among Emdeon's suite of solutions are increasing with a current annual run rate of 100 million ePrescriptions and 30 million clinical messages per year. In total, Emdeon currently facilitates over 5 billion healthcare information exchanges each year through its network which reaches approximately 500,000 physicians, 81,000 dentists, 60,000 pharmacies, 5,000 hospitals and 1,200 payers.

About Emdeon

Emdeon is a leading provider of revenue and payment cycle management and clinical information exchange solutions, connecting payers, providers and patients in the U.S. healthcare system. Emdeon's product and service offerings integrate and automate key business and administrative functions of its payer and provider customers throughout the patient encounter. Through the use of Emdeon's comprehensive suite of products and services, which are designed to easily integrate with existing technology infrastructures, customers are able to improve efficiency, reduce costs, increase cash flow and more efficiently manage the complex revenue and payment cycle and clinical information exchange processes. For more information, visit

SOURCE Emdeon Inc.
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