The U.S. is facing one of the worst public health crises in recent history. Opioid abuse has reached epic proportions, and both public and private institutions are struggling with how to respond effectively. In 2016, 11.5 million people misused prescription opioids, and 116 people died on average every day from opioid related drug overdoses.
Though there’s no “silver bullet” for the opioid crisis, healthcare organizations can take steps to mitigate opioid addiction among the populations they serve. Here are three ways to approach opioid abuse using population health management tools:
1. Identify high-risk populations: With a population health management tool, you can monitor trends that could impact opioid abuse. For instance, are there certain conditions which are more likely to result in opioid addiction? What about education level, socio-economic status, or geographic location? By aggregating patient data, you can view opioid-related trends at a high level to help inform your strategy and approach to solving the problem.
2. Automate interventions: For those higher risk populations, you can schedule automated interventions to help manage potential abuse. For example, you can use email, postal mail, or even text messages to distribute patient educational resources on pain management and the risks of chronic opioid use. Keeping the patient engaged and accountable outside of the care visit may help to minimize the chance of addiction.
3. Flag doctor-shopping patients: With access to a patient’s entire clinical record, you can easily identify patients who are “shopping” around for providers in order to access more opioid prescriptions. These patients are exploiting the healthcare industry’s lack of aggregated and shared data. When equipped with recent visit history and prescription details, providers can view addiction indicators before the patient comes in for their appointment.
The most promising way to combat today’s opioid crisis is for the industry to come together. We can do this through data aggregation and sharing, further empowering our individual population health goals. Additionally, we can unite through industry associations and conferences, like the upcoming National Council for Behavioral Health Conference (NatCon). At InteliChart, we are excited to attend the nation’s leading behavioral health conference and discuss topics including innovations in practice improvement, integrated health care and technology. Together, we can engage in meaningful conversations around the future of behavioral health and ways to best care for our patients with addiction concerns.
Hope to see you there, and check back with us after the conference to see what best practices we learned!