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ONC Launches Health IT Pilots for Prescription Drug Use Data

June 21, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is launching pilot programs aimed at making existing prescription drug use data available to providers and pharmacists when treating patients in ambulatory and emergency departments. Two pilot projects, launched in Indiana and Ohio, will look to measure the efforts of expanding and improving access to prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs).

PDMPs are statewide electronic databases designed to be used as a tool by healthcare providers to identify and intervene in cases of potential prescription drug abuse.  The databases collect, monitor, and analyze electronically transmitted prescribing and dispensing data submitted by pharmacies and dispensing practitioners. Many states do not use these databases, according to HHS, which says improving real-time access to the information contained in the PDMPs will provide an incentive to healthcare providers to use the program.

“Technology plays a critical role in our comprehensive efforts to address our nation’s prescription drug abuse epidemic,” Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), said in a statement. “Together with education, proper disposal practices, and enforcement, improving existing prescription monitoring programs is a priority for this administration.  We hope these innovative pilots will help usher in an era of ‘PDMPs 2.0’ across the nation to improve real time data sharing among, increase interoperability of data among states, and expand the number of people using these important tools.”

According to Farzad Mostashari, M.D., national coordinator for health IT, the PDMP pilot projects will help hospital staff identify a patient’s controlled substance history at the point of care to enable better targeting appropriate treatments and reduce the potential of an overdose or even death. “We are not creating new systems, we are adding value to those that exist,” he said in a statement.

The project in Indiana, launched through the Regenstrief Medical Record System (RMRS), a care management system used by Wishard Health Services, will aim to demonstrate how emergency department staff can receive a patient’s controlled substance prescription history. It is a collaboration between ONC, Regenstrief, Wishard, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, Appriss Inc., and the State of Indiana. 

The Ohio pilot project will test the impact of having a drug risk indicator in the EHR and how that affects clinical decision making.  The Ohio project is a collaboration with the Springfield Center for Family Medicine, Eagle Software Corporation’s NARxCHECK, the State of Ohio, and MITRE.

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