Electronic Prescribing

Electronic prescribing is when a provider sends a prescription electronically to a pharmacy. Electronic prescribing allows providers, with patient consent, to access the patient's medication history and to know the patient's prescription benefits prior to sending the prescription. As a result, providers make better clinical decisions and improve workflow related to managing a patient's medication. Prescribers can refer to these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to learn more about electronic prescribing in Rhode Island.


Electronic prescribing reduces medication errors to keep patients safe.

  • Alerts providers to possible drug interactions or patient drug allergies before they prescribe the wrong drug.
  • Integrates a patient’s prescription records directly into their electronic medical record.
  • Provides real-time access to a patient's medical history, helping providers make informed clinical decisions.
  • Prevents diversion and misuse of controlled substance prescriptions by reducing the incidence of prescription theft and forgery.

Electronic prescribing saves staff time every day in a provider's office.

  • Providers who electronic prescribe can renew prescriptions without having to find a patient’s chart.
  • Staff have to answer fewer questions about illegible handwriting.
  • Providers who electronic prescribe have real-time access to the list of prescriptions that an insurer will cover.
  • Providers do not have to take the time to re-issue a prescription for an alternate medication to meet health insurance requirements.

What Prescribers and Pharmacists Should Know

In January of 2017, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed legislation, amending the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, which provided that, no sooner than January 1, 2020, all Rhode Island prescribers shall be required to sign and transmit electronic prescriptions for controlled substances in schedules II, III, IV and V to a pharmacy, in accordance with regulations to be promulgated by the Rhode Island Department of Health (“RIDOH”).

In accordance with that legislation, RIDOH has updated its Rules and Regulations for Pain Management, Opioid Use and the Registration of Distributors of Controlled Substances in Rhode Island (216-RICR-20-20-4) (“Regulations”), which take effect January 2, 2020, and which mandate electronic prescribing of all controlled substances (EPCS) for Rhode Island prescribers.

  • All Rhode Island-licensed doctors of veterinary medicine (DVMs) have been granted a permanent waiver from electronic prescribing of controlled substances in schedules II, III, IV, and V.
  • Prescriptions issued by the Veterans Affairs Medical Center have been granted a time-limited waiver from electronic prescribing of controlled substances in schedules II, III, IV, and V.

Implementation of EPCS software may vary depending on the selected vendor. Prescribers who have not initiated the process of securing EPCS software applications are encouraged to do so immediately. Prescribers who have access to EPCS software that is compliant with federal and state confidentiality and security requirements should continue to utilize EPCS processes rather than using paper-based prescriptions. more

What Prescribers Should Do

  • Effective January 2, 2020, Rhode Island prescribers must review, sign, transmit, and file (confirmation of successful transmittal) prescriptions electronically for all controlled substances in Schedules II, III, IV, and V
  • The software used by Rhode Island prescribers to sign, transmit, and file electronic prescriptions must meet all federal security requirements for EPCS including, but not limited to, 21 C.F.R. § 1311.
  • Rhode Island prescribers are prohibited from using any software application to process electronic prescriptions if the software does not meet federal and state confidentiality and security requirements.
  • Rhode Island prescribers must print out the electronic prescription in hardcopy or store the electronic record so that it is readily retrievable in the patient’s medical record.