Does Your Practice Have Effective Opioid Prescribing Protocols?

By: John Cole

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Why you need prescribing protocols

Check list.jpg

In an effort to combat the opioid epidemic, state and federal governments continue to introduce regulations and guidelines for prescribing controlled substances. In addition, insurance payers have issued policies for prescribers. 

While these guidelines and policies have assisted in the fight against the opioid epidemic, they aren’t static or consistent and have left prescribers overwhelmed with trying to keep up.

Although guidelines and regulations will ultimately limit the number of future addicts and are pivotal to stemming the crisis, the dynamic and constantly changing nature of regulations makes prescriber compliance difficult. For this reason, it is crucial for any healthcare organization to introduce prescribing protocols. Protocols provide consistency for opioid prescribing clinicians and help support responsible prescribing. Moreover, they instill confidence and transparency in how a practice prescribes at every level.

Prescribing protocols: best practices

  • Consistent with guidelines, regulations, and requirements
    • The first step is ensuring that all state opioid prescribing guidelines and regulations are followed for the state(s) your organziation is located.
    • Outline policies for each insurance payer your practice accepts. This allows clincians to match and follow the requirements for each patient and their respective insurance.
  • Risk-informed
    • Assess each patient's risk level and provide supporting documentation -- insurance companies often oppose blanket standing orders, and risk-informed documentation helps to avoid this.
  • Highlight organization's values
    • Align protocols with your practice's mission and values.
    • Make protocol adherence a top priority throughout your organization.

Walk the walk

Your organization has developed and implemented prescribing what?

It's time to execute. The protocols must become ingrained throughout the practice. To ensure protocols are more than a document circulated once and forgotten, they need to become part of the clincian's workflow. During the initial roll-out and after, it is important to monitor and measure performance. It is also critical to listen -- ask for feedback and recommendations and make improvements accordingly. 

For more, check out our recent posts on related topics:


How AffirmHealth Shield can help

At AffirmHealth, we build software to better facilitate prescriber compliance. Our new product, Shield, helps organizations develop, implement and manage prescribing protocols. If responsible prescribing is important to you and your organization, having protocols in place is a must. 

Subscribe to our blog, so you can stay up-to-date on this topic:


The information presented on or through this website is made available solely for general information purposes and is not intended to substitute for professional, medical or legal advice. We do not warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of this information. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk. We disclaim all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on such materials.