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One of the questions we get most frequently when we discuss AffirmHealth is, “who are your customers?” It’s a fair question and broadly speaking, our customers are two-fold: clinical providers and the patients they serve. The second follow on question that occasionally comes up is, “do you want to get rid of all opioids?” To be clear, our goal is not to eliminate opioids. In fact, we firmly believe in the viable role that opioids have in pain management. But we also believe that responsible opioid prescribing must be practiced within the boundaries of a relationship founded on trust between the physician and the patient. Our products are designed to help develop that relationship so that both providers and patients can manage these prescriptions as safely as possible. Recognizing that different medical specialties have different regulatory demands, we offer solutions in three practice areas:
- Pain Management Specialties: With increasingly specific rules and codified procedures about prescribing practices—many of which seem to change on a semi-annual basis—these specialties have the most stringent guidelines and oversight. While designed to protect patients, they have also created an increasingly complex practice environment that has made it more difficult to effectively control pain without significant administrative and financial burden. This, in turn, has fueled frustration within the specialty and has led to both physician and patient dissatisfaction. AffirmHealth Shield’s solution for these specialties emphasizes risk reduction for the physician and the patient by ensuring compliance with state and federal prescribing guidelines to develop tailored, risk informed prescribing protocols that emphasize convenience and usability within an existing electronic health record.
- Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Drug Addiction: We work with a number of MAT clinics to help support safe methadone prescribing. While there is no “one size fits all” approach to the treatment of drug addiction, there is growing recognition that methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are all increasingly important pieices of the strategy. They are not without their own well documented risks, however, and our goal is to help support prescribers so that the potential for overdose and diversion are minimized. Providing that support means that we deliver a software solution that helps the clinician manage urine drug testing, psychosocial screening, and referral to ancillary support when needed. Many of these providers face the same regulatory oversight as the pain management specialties, but our products in this area address the additional and unique needs associated with addiction management.
- Enterprise Solutions: Recognizing that there are significant differences across the primary medical and surgical specialties, the enterprise variant of Shield is designed to help support the needs of a multi-practice group or health system. We recognize that these customers have needs at both the administrative and clinician levels and our product offering here includes support in both areas. We believe that the same, increasing regulatory oversight that has come to pain management and addiction medicine will come to these specialties next. Put simply, these primary medical and surgical specialties are still responsible for the bulk of the opioids prescribed in our country. Our goal is to provide these customers with the tools they need to stay compliant with these guidelines as they’re implemented over the next few years. Waiting until these guidelines are formally codified both increases the risk of an unnecessary patient overdose and places the providers and their practices at increased malpractice risk.
The last few years have seen a significant and critically needed increase in the attention placed on the opioid epidemic in our country. One heartening change, however, is an increased focus on safety within the practice of pain management. Yes, it is true that diversion management and law enforcement have a role to play in addressing the epidemic. But simply locking people up will not be the right solution for making meaningful and lasting progress. Instead, we need to figure out how to best apply these medications to the right patients, at the right time, in the right amount. Our hope, across our company, is that we can help deliver solutions that support that goal.
RELATED: Check out our state-by-state prescriber resource guide.
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