What can states do to stop the opioid crisis: Increasing prescriber use of prescription drug monitoring programs is critical to stopping opioid misuse and overdose deaths

By: John Cole

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Date: 02/20/2018

Filed Under: Healthcare, PDMPs, Opioid Epidemic

Our nation is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. The growth of the opioid crisis has generated an outcry for more resources to fight addition and provide proper treatment. Policymakers and public health officials are increasingly using new tools such as prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs)—state-based electronic databases that track the dispensing of certain controlled substances, including prescription opioids—to curb misuse and reduce overdose deaths. While PDMPs have been proven to be effective, the number of prescribers using these databases in clinical care remains low[1].

If PDMP usage works, how do states increase prescriber use?

A new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Institute for Behavioral Health, Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University found that states can increase prescriber use of PDMPs through eight evidence-based practices:

  • Prescriber use mandates – state laws requiring a prescriber to view a patient’s PDMP data under certain circumstances, such as before writing an initial prescription for a controlled substance.
  • Delegate access – allowing prescribers to designate someone on staff, such as a nurse, to access the PDMP on their behalf to help manage workflow
  • Unsolicited reports – where prescribers are proactively notified about patients who may be at risk for harm based on their controlled substance prescription history.
  • Improving data timeliness – increasing the frequency at which data are uploaded into PDMP databases.
  • Streamlining enrollment by making it easier for prescribers and delegates to register with their state PDMPs.
  • Educational and promotional initiatives that help prescribers understand how PDMPs work and encourage their use.
  • Integrating PDMP data with health information technology, which helps prescribers seamlessly access PDMPs through electronic health records or other IT systems.
  • Enhancing PDMP user interfaces, or redesigning how data are presented, to help prescribers more quickly analyze prescribing information and make better-informed decisions.

Of the eight practices listed, prescriber mandates are the most effective way to increase prescriber use. However, simply mandating use by passing a law doesn’t take the prescriber’s perspective into consideration. At AffirmHealth, we’re focused on enhancing PDMP user interfaces and integrating PDMP data directly into the prescriber’s daily workflow. Increasing prescriber use of PDMPs is vital in curbing our nation’s opioid epidemic. Making the process easier for prescriber’s through enhanced user interface and health IT integration is a priority of ours at AffirmHealth.

Check out our state-by-state prescriber resource guide.

Like what you've read. Download our latest free eBook, Solving the Opioid Epidemic: A Clinician's Perspective by AffirmHealth Chief Medical Officer Mario Ramirez, MD.

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[1] http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/analysis/2016/12/15/how-states-can-help-curb-opioid-misuse

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