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The Intersection of Medical Technology and Controlled Substance Abuse Prevention

the intersection of medical technology and controlled substance abuse prevention ehr

Opioid addiction is a complicated disease—it’s difficult to treat and even more difficult to prevent, especially in rural areas where its impact is felt disproportionately to their metropolitan counterparts. Where healthcare, technology, and social awareness meet however, arises a powerful weapon in the battle against controlled substance abuse and the opioid epidemic.

Hospitals have an ally against opioid abuse in the same technology they use to streamline the prescriptions process. While MEDHOST’s dedication to helping hospitals battle opioid abuse is a year-round commitment, as we enter National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, we’d like to highlight the important role EHR technology has to play in support of the most at-risk communities.

A Prescription for Prevention

In almost two decades, from 2000 – 2016, the percentage of deaths related to opioid abuse in the United States has skyrocketed—a 200 percent increase from 2000 – 2014—so states a 2018 revised research brief from ASPE, which cites The Centers for Disease Control. In fact, the report identifies those living in rural areas as most susceptible to death from prescription opioid abuse.

Now that controlled substances can be prescribed in all 50 states, adoption of an ePCS (e-prescribed controlled substances) system can have far-reaching impacts on communities nationwide. In addition, it’s likely that down the road adopting computer prescriber order-entry (CPOE) functionality that includes controlled substances may result in additional Promoting Interoperability incentives.

Opioid addiction can be treated and cured, but it can get a head-start with a focus on the community and what hospitals can do to prevent unqualified access. Since the problem of access has its roots in verifying patient data, a better question might be—What can an EHR solution do to lessen the burden of prevention felt by the community hospital?

A crisis that requires constant vigilance and action, MEDHOST is well-equipped to help the small, rural community hospitals facing higher rates of opioid addiction and death.

Basics of an ePCS System

A complicated maze of state regulations and looming federal mandates aside, an EHR system with a built-in ePCS solution comes with a handful of features that can help community hospitals tackle the issue of opioid abuse.

Seamless Functionality – An ePCS should be easily accessed and built into your current prescription workflow. Minimizing the number of steps and making sure e-prescribing a controlled substance doesn’t break-up your normal workflow is key.

Tracked Medication History – Even for a community hospital serving a small population, tracking that much information can become a challenge. Thankfully, there are programs in place that help mitigate that burden when connected to an EHR system.

Since 2011, 37 states have implemented PDMP (Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs), with 11 states currently working toward full PDMP operations.

A two-way flow of information between these databases and an ePCS solution helps alleviate one of the biggest barriers to verifying patient data and thus, reduces the risk of opioid abuse. In addition, this connection also leaves a trail of digital breadcrumbs to follow in the event an issue does come to bare. 

User Rights and Permissions – Once an e-prescription for controlled substances solution goes into effect, a critical part of implementation is making sure only authorized people have access to the platform.

Assigning rights also means taking the time to train clinicians on the proper use and functionality of the ePCS system so nothing is left to question and the tool cannot be easily accessed by unauthorized parties.

Layered Security –  Security of your EHR and all things contained within, including your e-prescription system, is of the utmost importance. The need for security becomes two-fold when your hospital begins prescribing controlled substances electronically.

Throw out your standard prescription pad and pen, security is where we’ve focused the core of our collaborative efforts. To help ensure medications aren’t going to those who shouldn’t have them, and to strengthen the fortress around your e-prescription system, extra security is essential.

Partnering for a More Secure ePCS System

In a joint effort championing prescribed opioid abuse prevention, MEDHOST is working with HIT security experts Imprivata to build extra layers of security into our ePCS solution with minimal impact on our customer's normal prescriptions workflow.

On top of the security already in place, Imprivata works to verify prescriber identification and ePCS system authorization using 2-factor authentication based on:

  • Provider IDs
  • Updated Security and Compliance Regulations

Change in Healthcare Helps Solve the Opioid Crisis

One of the most amazing aspects of humanity is our ability to evolve through finding innovative and alternative uses for technological. We strongly believe in finding new and effective ways EHR technology can be used to combat opioid abuse, while helping support healthy and aware communities.

Equipped with effective e-prescription technology, healthcare providers across the industry have a powerful aid in the prevention of prescribed opioid abuse and can more effectively battle this costly epidemic.

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