Prescribing Intelligence: The Role of Data Analytics in Combatting the Opioid Epidemic

By: John Cole

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Date: 03/14/2019

The opioid epidemic continues to wreak havoc on the public’s health, wellbeing, and its wallet. In recent years, the regulatory efforts to stem the crisis have significantly decreased opioid prescribing, but not without a cost. Clinicians who prescribe opioids are acutely aware of the regulatory oversight intended to cut down overprescribing, and this has stoked a “climate of fear” when prescribing. As such, patients suffering from chronic pain who have relied on opioid medications for years have reported that their physicians have either stopped prescribing opioids entirely or involuntarily tapered them to doses that do not adequately address their pain.


A Data-driven Solution 

There have been numerous articles, case studies, and reports on how big data and AI can be used to stem the epidemic. We certainly agree with that thesis, but analyzing & indexing the data most useful for clinical leaders and delivering it in an understandable format is critical. Additionally, we’ve learned that these data sets must work in tandem with a point of care/point of prescribing tool to drive responsible opioid prescribing. 

What opioid prescribing data is most useful?

  • System or medical group opioid prescriptions including: medication, dosage, length of prescription, patient, prescriber ID, prescriber specialty, practice location, and diagnosis
  • Opioid prescriptions in which patient daily morphine milligram equivalent (MME) is greater than 90
  • Patient’s receiving concurrent opioid & benzodiazepine prescriptions
  • Opioid prescriptions to “opioid naïve” patients
  • Prescriber adherence to opioid prescribing guideline (system/group, state, CDC) clinical activities

The Benefit 

These data insights enable clinical leadership to identify and stratify risk (prescriptions, patients) as well as understand prescribing habits and trends. Further, allowing clinical leaders to segment the prescription data by location, specialty, or diagnosis enables them to address known or emerging risks in the organization. Last, by combining historical prescription data with a point of care tool that ensures all proper guidelines were followed, providers are able to prescribe without fear.

As we have noted previously, there is no single solution or path to averting the opioid epidemic. However, our prescribing intelligence platform is helping health systems and medical groups across the country bolster their opioid stewardship initiatives. Here's an overview of our platform--we'd welcome the opportunity to connect, learn more about your organization and help move your opioid stewardship efforts forward.

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