According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from drug overdoses in the U.S. totaled more than 63,600 in 2016, with 42,249 of those deaths attributed to opioids. In 2016, Pennsylvania had the fourth highest opioid overdose death rate in the nation. Within the state, many of counties with the highest death rates were served by Geisinger Health System. Geisinger, recognized as an innovator in the use of EHRs and care delivery models, determined that the health system had an opportunity to reverse these trends. Geisinger developed and initiated several approaches that focused on changing physician practice patterns to reduce the prescribing of opioids. In addition, the health system encouraged physicians to follow pain management strategies that minimized or eliminated to use of opioids. They also enabled electronic prescribing for controlled substances. After launching these initiatives, Geisinger reduced prescriptions for opioids by about half. They also reported e-prescribing for controlled substances created $1 million in savings within five months due to greater efficiencies.
1. Learn how to use your EHR and clinical order entry systems to identify current practice patterns among providers and track changes over time. (Geisinger uses a provider dashboard which is produced by their analytics platform.)
2. Develop pain management strategies that encourage approaches other than potentially addictive opioids
3. Discuss the benefits and challenges of rolling out electronic prescribing for controlled substances across a health systems