HHS to Enlist Information Technology to Combat Rx Drug Abuse

Published Online: Tuesday, July 10, 2012
New pilot programs in Indiana and Ohio will attempt to reduce prescription drug abuse by offering expanded access to prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) to providers and pharmacists treating patients in ambulatory and emergency departments. The programs were launched by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

PDMPs collect, monitor, and analyze e-prescription and e-dispensing data from pharmacies and practitioners, but are currently underused. The hope is that offering real-time access to the information they contain will increase their use by providers. The Indiana program will allow emergency department staff to access a patient’s controlled substance prescription history directly through a care management system. (In some states, emergency departments are responsible for almost a fourth of all controlled substance prescriptions.) The Ohio program will include a drug risk indicator in patients’ electronic health records and examine how this affects clinical decision making.

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

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