With I-STOP now law, local company says electronic medical networking is safe, secure

Mar 29, 2016

It's the first week in New York State of a fully-implemented law known as I-STOP. It's a law that supporters say prevents attempts at acquiring fraudulent prescriptions by taking the process entirely online. Meanwhile, one local company that oversees an online network says their system is safe and secure.

The first phase of I-STOP led to the creation of a new online database in late 2013. The latest phase, announced last weekend by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, requires doctors to prescribe medications entirely online, eliminating the practice of hand-written notes handed directly to patients.

HEALTHeLINK operates a network of doctors, hospitals and insurance providers that allows users to share and access critical patient information. Officials say while the system allows doctors access to critical patient information, it is a safe and secure system.

In the Buffalo area, a local not-for-profit organization which oversees a network of doctors, hospitals and health insurance providers says it's safe and secure. Dan Porreca, executive director of HEALTHeLINK, says doctors and their staff members must do more than just enter a password to access sensitive patient information.

"We take it very, very seriously," Porreca said. "There's encryption, there's two-factor authentication... the fact of the matter is it's more than a username and a password that a doctor is required to use, or their staff, in order to get access to the patient information.

"There's also a digital fingerprint on every access. So, if there's every any question as to whether it was a legitimate access, we're able to investigate."

Schneiderman defends the legally-required transition to e-prescribing as a means to tackle attempts to acquire the drugs that are fueling the state's ongoing opioid addiction crisis.

"By moving to a system of e-prescribing, we're going to curb the incidents of these criminal acts and also reduce errors, resulting from misinterpretation on handwriting of good-faith prescriptions," Schneiderman said.

Porreca says using an online network to prescribe medications is hardly new. Many doctors have already been doing it for years, encouraged to do so by incentives.

"The number of scripts being submitted electronically has been growing over the past five to 10 years," he said.