Health IT programs to help fight prescription drug abuse to be tested in Indiana and Ohio

Today in Indiana and Ohio, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a pilot program that promises to give prescribers another powerful tool for combating prescription drug abuse. The Enhancing Access to PDMPs Project is designed to test the feasibility of connecting a prescription drug monitoring program to other health information technology (Health IT) systems to help emergency department physicians deliver better and more timely care to patients needing substance abuse treatment.

Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are statewide electronic databases that collect, monitor, and analyze prescribing and dispensing data submitted by pharmacies and dispensing practitioners. The programs collect a considerable amount of useful information, but their effectiveness at combatting prescription drug abuse is often limited because prescribers fail to access them.

The purpose of the new project is to help hospital staff quickly identify a patient’s controlled substance history and alert them to patients with a potential addiction to painkillers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared that prescription drug abuse in the United States is an epidemic. Programs such as this one can address the prescription drug abuse epidemic by expanding timely access to PDMP data and helping doctors provide quality care.

The Enhancing Access to PDMPs Project was created through the joint efforts of public sector and private industry experts who participated in the White House Roundtable on Health IT and Prescription Drug Abuse in June 2011. Later that month, the HHS Prescription Drug Abuse and Health IT Work Group of the Behavioral Health Coordinating Committee followed up with an Action Plan for Improving Access to Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs through Health Information Technology. The pilot program launched today in Indiana and Ohio is managed within HHS by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in collaboration with ONDCP, CDC, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Read more about the Enhancing Access to PDMPs Program here. More information about prescription drug abuse is available on ONDCP’s website here.

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