The national opioid crisis has reached epidemic proportions. The crisis has been spurred by easily-accessible drugs, an increased reliance on pharmaceuticals to treat pain and unhealthy lifestyles, and a regional economic downturn in some areas of America.
Today, opioids now account for 42,000 deaths in America every year, and it’s been estimated that as many as 2.1 million people are abusing opiates in the United States.
But doctors are fighting back. Using Electronic Health Records and a knowledge of the crisis, more physicians than ever are looking for signs of addiction and taking steps to prevent the continued growth of this addiction epidemic.
Robust Documentation Helps Fight Opiate Abuse
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) recently released a documentation tip sheet that can be used by physicians when confronted with individuals who are abusing, or are suspected to be abusing, opioids.
This tip sheet is built to guide healthcare providers, and show them the different documentation elements that are required to assess opioid use, dependency, and abuse.
This documentation is important – both because it can help doctors recognize and log signs and symptoms of opiate abuse, and because proper documentation will help nationwide analyses and studies understand the demographics, causes, and solutions to this epidemic.
EHR And PMDP Cross-Compatibility Helps Prevent Improper Subscriptions
Because many EHR systems are not compatible with each other, it’s often difficult for physicians and hospitals to transfer patient data between different facilities – and this is often abused by those who are looking to get opiate prescriptions.
One tool that is used to combat this is the PDMP or Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. The PDMP is a database that contains information about prescription drugs given to individuals. Both state and federal-level PDMPs exist – and it was recently recommended that these be fully integrated by the end of 2018, to get a holistic view of nationwide prescriptions.
EHR providers have been working to integrate PDMP information into their systems, as well. In Pennsylvania, for example, the Department of Health is requiring integration of PDMP databases into ERH record-keeping systems.
This will allow doctors to get a better understanding of the prescription history of any given patient – and, in turn, prevent them from over-prescribing opiates.
Digital Data – Putting Power Back In The Hands Of Physicians
The opiate crisis is not a local problem – and it should not be treated as such. In order to treat an epidemic of nationwide proportions, nationwide measures must be taken. And today’s EHR systems are allowing doctors to do just that – communicate across state lines to find a solution to this crisis.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can take your healthcare practice to new levels of efficiency and success!