ONC Health IT Pilot Intended To Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse

Posted on by Frank J. Rosello

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has launched a pilot program to make existing prescription drug use data available to healthcare providers and pharmacists when they treat patients during office visits and in emergency departments.

The test projects in Indiana and Ohio will measure the effectiveness of expanding and improving access to prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) as part of the administration’s efforts to reduce prescription drug abuse.

The monitoring programs are statewide electronic databases, which are designed as a tool for providers to identify and intervene in cases of potential prescription drug abuse. The databases collect, monitor and analyze electronically transmitted prescribing and dispensing data submitted by pharmacies and dispensing practitioners.

The idea is that by improving real-time access to the information it will encourage providers to use the program more than it is now. So far, 49 states have legislation authorizing prescription drug monitoring programs or have active programs.

“The PDMP pilot projects will help hospital staff identify a patient’s controlled substance history at the point of care to enable better targeting of appropriate treatments and reduce the potential of an overdose or even death,” said Farzad Mostashari, MD, national coordinator for health IT. “We are not creating new systems; we are adding value to those that exist,” he added.

In Indiana, emergency department staff will be able to receive a patient’s controlled substance prescription history directly through the Regenstrief Medical Record System (RMRS), a care management system used by Wishard Health Services, a community health system in Indianapolis, and other hospitals.

The project is a collaboration of ONC, Regenstrief, Wishard, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, Appriss Inc., and the State of Indiana. In some states, Emergency departments are responsible for almost 25 percent of all controlled substance prescriptions.

The Ohio pilot will test having a drug risk indicator in the electronic health record (EHR) and how that affects clinical decision making. The Ohio project is a collaboration with the Springfield Center for Family Medicine, Eagle Software Corporation’s NARxCHECK, the State of Ohio, and MITRE.

The hope is that the pilots will improve real-time data sharing among providers, increase interoperability of data among states, and expand the number of people using these tools, according to Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy.

The Enhancing Access to PDMPs Project stems from joint efforts of public sector and private industry experts that participated in the White House Roundtable on Health IT and Prescription Drug Abuse last year and the subsequent action plan (PDF).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that the United States is in the midst of an epidemic of prescription drug overdose deaths, which outnumber deaths from heroin and cocaine combined.

Article written by Mary Mosquera, Senior Editor for Government Health IT

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