Combatting the Opioid CrisisAug 25, 2017
There is no debate that the opioid crisis is taking a significant toll: in healthcare costs, in lost productivity, and most importantly, in lives. The most recent analysis (from 2013) estimated that the total economic burden of the opioid crisis is $78.5 billion.3 While the rate at which opioids are being prescribed has declined since 2011, providers are often faced with a lack of information that makes it difficult to determine whether their patient has a legitimate need for opioid medication or whether they may be at risk for misuse of opioids or other prescription drugs.
In some areas, regional or statewide tracking databases (e.g, Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs) have been established to help combat misuse of opioids or other prescription drugs, and appear to be the most promising state-level interventions currently available, particularly when integrated into the electronic health record.4 However, these databases are not without limitations. They are often based on claims or periodic transfer of clinical data – not real-time data.5 In addition, data is generally regional and does not include dispensing of controlled prescription drugs outside of the state. Lastly, technology limitations within the database itself make it difficult to perform advanced analytics. Therefore, decision support and trend analyses are inherently retrospective rather than prospective.
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