Leveraging EHR Technology to Fight the Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis facing the country is almost too startling to comprehend, with nearly 130 Americans dying every day from an opioid overdose.

In addition, a recent forecast from STAT estimated that as many as 650,000 people (roughly the population of Baltimore) will die over the next 10 years from opioid overdoses.

On top of the lives already claimed by the epidemic, in 2016 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 64,000 people died of a drug overdose, totaling more than three times the rate of overdose since 1999. In 2017, the number of drug overdoses ballooned again to hit six times the rate in 1999.

When confronted with the realities of the crisis, it can be overwhelming for hospitals and healthcare systems to consider what steps to take to ebb the crisis. The dual tasks of ensuring that patients have access to safer, more effective chronic pain treatment while simultaneously reducing the risk of opioid abuse, overprescribing and death is no small challenge and will take a multi-pronged approach to become a reality.

Hospitals, along with efforts from consumer advocates and policymakers, can do their part to tackle the epidemic by leveraging technology and data sharing to help prevent overprescribing. In fact, a recent report from PwC titled the “Top Health Industry Issues of 2018” noted that identifying behavioral markers and social health determinants were critical to prevent opioid misuse. Similarly, a 2018 study from Vizient that surveyed 90-plus member hospitals and health system leaders found that 50 percent reported “new technologies to monitor opioid prescribing” to be effective. Healthcare providers could leverage modern electronic health records by:

Leveraging Modern Electronic Health Record (EHR) Systems:

  • Tracking the flow of a patient’s opioid use on an ongoing basis.
  • Using algorithms to predict which patients are more at-risk of becoming addicted.
  • Reminding clinicians of prescribing guidelines and drug interaction, including alerts when they should avoid overprescribing based on patient history.
  • Supporting a physician’s ability to refer a patient to addiction recovery services.
  • Enabling healthcare providers to analyze opioid prescribing patterns across an organization.

The scope and scale of the opioid crisis is an unsettling reminder that healthcare systems, hospitals and physicians can do more — and must try to do more — to curb the deadly effects of this national epidemic.

In order to help further prioritize patient safety in EHR technology, MEDHOST has partnered with The Sullivan Group. As an additional feature within MEDHOST’s Emergency Department Information System (EDIS), your organization can implement the Risk Mitigation Module (RMM) that integrates real-time patient safety and risk management notifications, allowing providers to focus more on patient care.

To learn more about The Sullivan Group, check out their series of blogs on the opioid crisis and take their questionnaire on opioid safety.

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Further Reading:

The Intersection of Medical Technology and Controlled Substance Abuse Prevention

How Medical Technology Can Help Prevent Opioid Abuse

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