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    To curb opioid abuse, new technologies must be embraced


    Some states, like Ohio, allow for streamlined access of PDMP information from within the prescriber’s EHR. This feature promotes much greater use and better face time discussions with patients.

    Multi-pronged approach required

    Going into 2018, states should consider better incentives to encourage the wider use of programs and technologies that provide physicians with greater transparency into their patients’ consumption of controlled substances, reduce the opportunity for fraudulent prescriptions and give prescribers better tools to identify risk and facilitate intervention when necessary.


    RELATED: What can physicians do to help curb the opioid epidemic?


    Efforts to restrict the supply of opioid-based medications, though well-intentioned, often lead to unintended consequences, such as the increased use of illicit drugs like fentanyl or heroin. In fact, heroin use in the United States has risen five-fold during the past decade.

    To address this complex health crisis, the industry needs to consider a multi-prong approach that includes:

    ·       Strengthening EPCS regulations with positive incentives to encourage wider adoption.

    ·       Reducing the complexities and costs of onboarding doctors for EPCS, especially since prescribers seeking EPCS certification must have pre-existing DEA licenses.

    ·       Equipping physicians with PDMP data in a timely manner that is meaningful, practical and not disruptive to workflows.

    ·       Educating physicians and pharmacists on the benefits of EPCS, including the additional convenience, security and reduced stigma for patients in treatment.

    ·       Expanding initiatives that increase physician involvement in addiction-prevention efforts, including programs that educate providers about alternative therapies and encourage the wider use of technologies that help identify at-risk patients, so interventions can be initiated earlier.

    The opioid epidemic is exacting a lethal toll on the country. We must redouble and accelerate efforts to slow—and hopefully reverse—the current opioid epidemic. As we move into 2018, we need to make it easier for prescribers and all stakeholders to become more engaged and consider these additional approaches, particularly regarding PDMP and EPCS expanded use.


    Tom Sullivan, MD, is a board-certified cardiologist and internal medicine specialist with over 40 years of clinical practice. He is chief strategy officer of e-prescribing and medication management solutions provider DrFirst. 


    Tom Sullivan, MD
    Tom Sullivan, MD, is a board-certified cardiologist and internal medicine specialist with over 40 years of clinical practice. He is ...


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    • [email protected]
      The EPCS will NOT work in Georgia where pharmacists can refuse to fill prescriptions they don't like and, much too often, patients are unable to rely on a specific pharmacy to fill their prescriptions. Adding to the problem are insurance companies that have become the gate keepers of controlled substance Rx's, overriding the physician and imposing limits on quantity for pain specialists based on CDC "recommendations" for PCP's.
    • [email protected]
      Dr Sullivan, very noble and well stated. Really though, you advocate another burden for those of us in the trenches. If you would like to cover the cost of implementation and training, then maybe you have some traction. Why not prosecute the very few "bad prescribers", pull their license, fines, and even prison terms. The vast number of us are good stewards of our prescribing privileges, law abiding, and should not be hampered with more restrictions, debts, and threats. Go get the bad guys and leave the good guys alone please. You regulators are burning us out of primary care Dr Bob
    • Anonymous
      Hmmmmm.... The "chief strategy officer of e-prescribing and medication management solutions provider DrFirst" recommends we use (and pay for in $$ and time) e-prescribing to stop the opioid crisis? Imagine that. I'm sure his company can successfully contribute to state level politicians in a rent seeking move to require this.

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