PDMP Seems to Be the Heart of Health IT’s Effort to Address the Opioid Crisis

I’m always intrigued by anything that talks about what healthcare can do to help with the opioid crisis. So, I had to attend when KLAS Research offered a session on the Opioid Crisis at their Arch Collaborative event.

One thing has become clear to me. Everywhere is the epicenter of the opioid crisis.

Basically, no one was spared from the opioid crisis. Everyone is dealing with the challenges associated with it and maybe that’s a good thing that everyone feels like they live in the epicenter of the crisis since every community needs to work on it if we’re going to make a dent.

Along with this idea, came this related idea from all the opioid sessions and discussions I’ve been in over the last year:

Whenever there’s talk of the opioid crisis at a health IT conference, there’s always a lot of discussion of the PDMP data and being able to access that data. While everyone I’ve talked to has said that the PDMP data has been helpful in their efforts to deal with the crisis, there are still a lot of real challenges associated with PDMP. Not the least of which is that PDMP data is done on a state by state basis.

I’m not sure the history of how every state has their own PDMP system, but my guess is that it was a mix of the past DEA reporting work being done by each state and the ability for states to pass legislation related to the opioid crisis quicker than any sort of federal legislation. It’s really too bad since the PDMP abuse really should be a national effort and not done state by state. We know the weaknesses of state by state data for opioid use and so do those addicted to opioids.

Another challenge that was highlighted well at the Arch Collaborative conference was how every state had very different regulations. How each state required counseling, if and how the provider had to login to the PDMP system, and many other ways that opioids were handled in each state made it really challenging to navigate. This is particularly true in cities that are on the border of 2 states let alone West Virginia that’s bordered by 5 states. Creating the right EHR workflow that takes into account all of these state variations is a significant hurdle for many with no really clear solution.

These challenges illustrated why most healthcare organizations needed to make having a voice in their state governments so important. One pathway that was suggested was through having your practices take an active role in your state and county medical societies. Spending the dues money with them was worth it in order to have a voice in your state capital where you can really influence the state regulations that are made around opioid prescribing.

In a related topic, I was also impressed that most in the room saw EPCS (Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances) as an extremely popular solution for their doctors.

No doubt there were a few local idiosyncrasies where it didn’t make sense yet, but those who had already implemented EPCS were big fans and a couple mentioned that it was one of the only times that doctors came and thanked them for implementing it. There are still some challenges in the initial setup of EPCS, but those seemed manageable. This is good news since EPCS has also been identified as helpful in understanding and improving the opioid crisis.

I didn’t catch all the numbers that were shared in this session, but a few different CIOs and CMIOs shared how their efforts to decrease prescribing of opioids had shown dramatic results. I was most impressed that they had taken this effort so serious and that they knew how many fewer opioids their organizations had been prescribing. It’s hard to know how you’re doing with something until you measure it and evaluate those numbers. It seems like many healthcare organizations have made huge efforts in this regard.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.