Technology’s Role In The Opioid Crisis

By October 9, 2017

Every day 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose2. Over 50% of most drug overdose deaths are caused by prescriptions drugs and almost 80% of the worlds pain pills are consumed in the United State1. This is one of the causes that have increased opioid deaths by 19% from 2015 to 20161. The crisis is so bad the President of the United States has now declared a “national public health emergency” in order to combat this crisis. The Behavioral Health industry has been fighting the substance abuse epidemic for quite some time, and are now taking more proactive steps in the right direction with the use of technology and with the help of technology vendors.

The electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) has been a topic of discussion surrounding the ways we can take preventive measures and utilize technology.  The use of EPCS can make a difference by streamlining clinical workflows and providing critical security measures that are designed to help prescribers prevent prescription drug abuse. Using this as a management tool would also help with drug-drug interactions, inappropriate dosing, and dosage reminders, which could help reduce errors as well as enhance the safety of patients. Another benefit of being able to electronically prescribe is by eliminating the use of paper prescriptions. By eliminating paper, you are eliminating the chances of paper pads that can be stolen, altered, or forged by patients. This also helps the pharmacists know that the prescriptions they are receiving have not been tampered with and is exactly what the prescriber intended to order.

Professionals working in the Behavioral Health field previously felt like part of the problem with EPCS is having to make a decision on whether or not to prescribe a substance to a patient who could be abusing the system. Before, clinicians could treat a patient and prescribe these controlled substance, but have no way of knowing if they have been prescribed the substance by another clinician elsewhere. Due to the limited access of a patient’s background information, the government is looking to utilize a Prescriptions Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). This technology would provide a way to share data amongst clinicians to track patient’s prescription history and drug consumption patterns to better determine whether or not a substance should be prescribed. This is something that will be highly recommended by the White House starting July of 2018.

Over the next few years the technology vendors that will stand out are the ones working with their behavioral health providers to create solutions that help them manage their clients. Remarkable Health has recently launched an EPCS solution as part of their technology platform and is dedicated to do their part in helping our partners fight the opioid crisis.

 

1 National Institute on Drug Abuse: Abuse, National Institute on Drug. “Opioid Crisis.” NIDA, Dr. Francis Collins, 1 June 2017, www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-crisis.

2 US Department of Health and Human Services:  “Opioid Overdose.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Aug. 2017, www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html.