Healthcare IT can play a more substantial role in combating the opioid epidemic and improving patient outcomes, and a new playbook aims to maximize the impact of technology in the fight.
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, through its opioid task force, has published the guide to help senior healthcare IT executives, providers and others better use information technology to combat abuse.
The task force’s playbook includes resources, best practices and real world examples that show the potential of IT to stand in the way of opioid addiction and deaths.
A 2019 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranked the United States as the country with the most opioid-related deaths among the 25 countries tracked. In 2017, the U.S. had more than 42,000 deaths from opioid overdoses.
The CHIME playbook has eight chapters with background, examples, key takeaways and links to resources. They include:
- Creating an opioid stewardship committee.
- Creating a dashboard.
- Enabling provider education and change management.
- Maintaining order sets and care pathways.
- Fine-tuning electronic prescribing of controlled substances.
- Working with prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs).
- Offering patient education on opioids.
- Optimizing community outreach and collaboration.
The playbook concludes with the results from a survey of EHR vendors covering their PDMP strategies.
“The Opioid Task Force Playbook focuses on what we know best, which is applying healthcare IT to help improve patient outcomes,” says Patricia Lavely, task force co-chair and senior vice president and CIO at Gwinnett Medical Center. “Our task force members identified successful strategies throughout the U.S. and compiled them in a playbook that can be used as a framework to launch and sustain opioid initiatives.”
In addition to the steps it outlines to boost IT’s impact on the opioid epidemic, the playbook details steps that several different healthcare systems have taken to reduce opioid prescribing by physicians, which lessens or eliminates patients’ exposure to the drugs and reduces the number of pills that might be used illicitly or stolen.
“We have designed the playbook to be easy to use and easy to update with new and innovative IT-based solutions,” says Dave Lehr, task force co-chair and CIO at Anne Arundel Medical Center. “The opioid crisis is constantly changing; we see progress in some areas and new challenges in others. Because the playbook is an electronic document, we can make revisions at any time to reflect the current state of the opioid epidemic.”
Recently the amount of prescribed opioids has declined in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid that can be manufactured clandestinely, is on the rise and may require different approaches to help those at risk of addiction.
The playbook is one of several educational programs launched by the Opioid Task Force since its inception in January 2018. Other resources include an ongoing webinar series, public policy outreach and the CHIME Opioid Health IT Action Center, which is under development.
The CHIME Opioid Task Force Playbook is available for free here. For more information about the CHIME Opioid Task Force, go here.
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