- Healthcare leaders, lawmakers, and regulators can combat the opioid crisis by expanding data access for providers, optimizing data analytics tools, and encouraging alternative methods of pain management, according to recommendations from the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC).
“The growing crisis of opioid misuse, addiction, and overdose has had a devastating impact on communities across the United States,” HLC wrote.
“Effective responses to this complex and evolving public health challenge require the participation of leadership at the state, local, and federal level, as well as healthcare systems and communities.”
Increasing access to patient data and prescription data is one of the primary ways lawmakers and regulators can combat opioid addiction, HLC stated.
“While specific legislative and regulatory solutions should be developed in consultation with healthcare stakeholders, Congress should support efforts to create access to real-time prescribing data within the clinician workflow on a national basis,” the Council advised.
Policymakers can support the integration of actionable data into clinician workflows to provide prescribers with necessary clinical data that will improve clinical decision-making.
HLC also advised regulators to address the current barriers to prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) data interoperability from state to state.
While prescription drug monitoring programs have had a positive impact on reducing prescription rates, a lack of interoperability between states could lead to patients obtaining prescriptions in multiple places. Eliminating barriers in state-to-state data exchange could help prevent this issue and ensure that providers aren’t over-prescribing drugs to patients.
Regulators can also help expand access to PDMP data, HLC noted.
“States should authorize third-party payers, including pharmacy benefit managers, commercial insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid, to allow access to PDMP data for enrolled patients in order to help improve patient care and manage costs,” the document stated.
“Data agreements for sharing PDMP data with third-party payers should ensure protections for patient privacy, data security, and protection against PDMP data being used for inappropriate purposes.”
Advanced analytics tools and technology will also play an important part in combating opioid addiction.
“Healthcare leaders should develop innovative technology and data analytics solutions to encourage the creation, adoption, and evaluation of emerging strategies that will address gaps in information access and care,” HLC wrote.
HLC suggested that leaders use predictive analytics and patient risk scores to support improved decision-making and patient-centered care. Additionally, providers can use mobile apps and social media to support long-term recovery and develop more personalized care for patients.
HLC also advises that healthcare leaders, lawmakers, and regulators drive the adoption of e-Prescribing technology among healthcare organizations, a practice that is already required in several states.
“E-Prescribing for all controlled substances, where practicable, will allow prescriptions to be transmitted securely, limit tampering, and reduce fraud,” HLC said.
Stakeholders from all sectors of healthcare should also work to promote alternative methods of pain management for patients.
HLC stated that healthcare leaders could improve patient access to a range of non-opioid therapies by adopting value-based models that support integrated pain management approaches and long-term outcomes.
“Healthcare leaders should develop education, support, and promotion of strategies that will reduce barriers to holistic pain management, including treatment availability and financial barriers,” HLC added.
The organization recommends that lawmakers and regulators incentivize increased access to evidence-based, comprehensive substance abuse treatment and eliminating barriers to care.
Successfully combating the opioid crisis will require initiative and engagement from stakeholders across the healthcare continuum.
“This document is a call to action, not only for lawmakers and regulators, but also for all sectors of American healthcare,” HLC concluded.
“By building upon ongoing initiatives that are already yielding promising results, healthcare leaders can and will make a difference in stemming a crisis that has already claimed too many lives and damaged too many families and communities.”