The Opioid Crisis: How Medical Practices are Helping Fight an Epidemic
In 1999, 4,000 people died from opioid overdoses. In 2016, that number was between 59,000 and 65,000 people. The head of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, has declared that the opioid epidemic is the FDA’s biggest crisis.
With the emphasis on combating the opioid epidemic, technology, regulations and better data are helping to fight back.
Getting the Right Patient Data
One of the biggest barriers to combating the opioid epidemic is emphasizing the importance of mental & behavioral health. While providers have always cared for the physical health of their patients, many are now incorporating specific mental & behavioral health screenings into their practice workflows.
These screenings provide physicians with patient health data on opioid risk, alcohol misuse, depression and other factors that help identify at-risk individuals. With better data, practices can make more informed decisions and better predict which patients need additional support.
Better Record Keeping
Certain states, like Florida, have instituted programs that keeps better records of patient diagnoses and prescribed medications. The program aims to allow physicians better data on which patients have been receiving medications and when, in order to avoid overprescribing.
When these databases are interfaced with EHR technology, providers are able to access patient data quickly and make informed medical decisions Programs like Florida’s require clinicians or staff members to check with a statewide database before prescribing or dispensing drugs.
New legislative limitations have passed in several states, including Florida, hoping to reduce opioid prescribing. 25 states have passed legislation imposing limitations since 2016.
HHS regulations including tracking prescribing patterns hope to address prescribing at the national level. These regulations support the increased focus on limiting opioid prescribing, in conjunction with better awareness of opioid risks.
With new funds allocated to addressing the opioid crisis, changing regulations and new, opioid-focused government programs are sure to be on the horizon.
As practices work to combat the opioid epidemic, DAS Health is here to help. With easy to implement mental & behavioral health screenings, we can help your practice get better patient health data to inform clinical decisions. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you.
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