Government Uses Pilot IT Programs in Battle Against Prescription Drugs
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is piloting two programs in Indiana and Ohio to help prevent prescription drug abuse. Many states throughout the US have adopted prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) to help provide doctors and pharmacists access to information that includes the medications prescribed by all physicians to a given patient. This information will help healthcare providers to avoid potentially harmful drug interactions and also to stop patients from receiving multiple addictive prescriptions from a variety of doctors simultaneously in a practice known as “doctor shopping.”
The current PDMPs have a variety of kinks to be worked out before they can be effective in their intended purpose. The major issues presently facing these systems nationwide include:
- Many states do not mandate participation of physicians and pharmacists, so the rate of use is extremely low.
- The systems are not set up in real time so many patients abusing prescription drugs will fall through the cracks.
- The systems are not set up to communicate nationally. Therefore, addicts and dealers can cross borders to get multiple prescriptions and their physicians would not know.
The pilot programs in Ohio and Indiana are designed to target specific problems within the system, find appropriate solutions, and then move the technology to states across the country. These programs are being funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Indiana’s Pilot PDMP Program to Focus on Emergency Medical Personnel
The program in Indiana is set to target emergency room physicians and staff, an area of medicine with its own specialized needs for the use of PDMPs. The new technology hopes to accomplish a level of technical integration not yet seen; the goal is to unite the Indiana Scheduled Prescription Electronic Collection and Tracking Program (INSPECT) with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s Prescription Monitoring Program known as “InterConnect.” This would allow for a wider capability of interstate information exchange pertaining to patient prescription drug information. If the pilot program is successful, other states can follow Indiana’s documentation and hook into the network around the country.
Ohio’s PDMP Program to Test Impact on Healthcare Providers’ Clinical Decisions
In theory, PDMPs seem to be a logical way for physicians and pharmacists to make patient prescription drug decisions with all the relevant information in front of them. However, no studies have actually tracked the clinical application of their use. In Ohio’s pilot PDMP program, they will be embedding a drug risk indicator into the system to ascertain the effect on clinical choices made by physicians with access to these indicators. If the process proves helpful, this technology could also be used nationally.
Do you think PDMPs are a good idea and that the federal government should continue to improve the technology to allow wider, more effective usage? Tell us what you think below.