Technology Versus Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis makes news headlines daily and , more importantly, 115 people die each day due to opioid overdose. Blindly prescribing fewer controlled substances doesn’t solve the problem. Reducing medications prematurely or making access difficult for patients with a medical need can lead to serious physical and mental health issues. Likewise, overmedicating and overprescribing can cause deadly harm and contribute to drug diversion. With proper use of technology, we hope to ensure that medications land in the correct patient’s hands while under physician care. So, the question is – what technologies can make a difference?

Technology’s Role in the Combating the Opioid Crisis

Combating the opioid crisis is a joint effort on the state and federal levels from lawmakers and law enforcement to care givers and prescribers. Identifying those that are addicted or at risk is crucial to improving patient care before an overdose has a chance to occur. EPCS and PDMP aim to arm physicians with information, so patients are less likely to overmedicate, share or sell medications, or become at-risk of addiction.

While eRx has been federally mandated, there are two relatively newer tools – EPCS and PDMP – that have the ability to impact and combat the opioid crisis. Already, 40% of states either have required EPCS use, have impending deadlines, or have proposed legislation. With nearly 95% of US pharmacies EPCS enabled, today, providers can effectively send all prescriptions within a single, secure electronic workflow.

Technology Tools

EPCS – Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances

What is it? 

Replacing special Rx pads, EPCS is a secure, electronic transmission of a controlled substance prescription direct to a pharmacy.

How does it work?

Like eRx, EPCS is integrated within your EHR’s prescribing workflow. EPCS requires two-factor authentication from prescribers – typically a password and dynamic code from a key fob.

Benefits

  • Reduces fraud and abuse
  • Protects prescriber’s DEA #
  • Increases patient satisfaction
  • Increases patient safety

Statistics

  • 30% of prescribers are EPCS-enabled
  • 95% of pharmacies are EPCS ready
  • 4 states require EPCS (MA, MN, NY, CT)
  • 7 states have an impending EPCS deadline
  • 10 states with proposed EPCS legislation

Resources

PDMP – Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

What is it? 

State programs that collect prescription data with the intention of allowing prescribers to review a patient’s medication history prior to prescribing.

How does it work?

PDMP access varies by state. In some states, prescribers log onto a website to check prescription history, but the majority of states are able to integrate within EHR’s EPCS workflows.

Benefits

  • Identify patients at risk of abuse
  • Identify patients suffering from addiction
  • Provide better medical care
  • Reduce drug diversion and abuse
  • Interstate data sharing policies vary by state
  • A small subset of states requires veterinarians to report

Statistics

  • 49 states have operational PDMPs (MO does not)
  • 42 states require prescribers to access the PDMP prior to prescribing
  • 34 states allow PDMP data to be integrated within EHRs
  • In states with required use, 90% of prescribers adhere
  • 47 states are adding the ability to view nearby state medication data

Resources

Next week we’ll discuss the impact the opioid epidemic has on rural America.

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