CHIME: Improved data sharing, patient identifiers needed for opioid fight

In response to the Senate Finance Committee’s request for comment, the advocacy group points to interoperability as the biggest challenge to patient safety and access to patient prescribing history.
By Jessica Davis
04:53 PM
patient ID opioid crisis

Technology and data are crucial to limiting the impact of the opioid epidemic, but some congressional mandates may hinder the cause, according to a letter from CHIME to lawmakers.

The Senate Finance Committee is examining potential policies that could improve care access and treatment quality, in addition to addressing the causes that lead to abuse. Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, called on the healthcare industry earlier this month to provide feedback.

In response, CHIME highlighted recommendations and challenges to curtailing the spread of the opioid epidemic by answering three of the committee’s questions.

[Also: CHIME launches Opioid Task Force, hopes to rally CIOs to take on the epidemic]

First, interoperability is a major roadblock to the data sharing capabilities necessary for care coordination between state initiatives like Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. And CHIME said part of that problem is caused by the lack of a consistent patient identity matching strategy.

“We continue to recommend the removal of the prohibition barring federal regulators from identifying standards to improve positive patient identification,” CHIME CEO and President Russell Branzell and Board Chair Cletis Earle wrote. “Without a consistent patient identity matching strategy, the creation of a longitudinal care record is simply not feasible.”

And a longitudinal health record will also improve the ability for patients to monitor consent and reduce privacy concerns for digital health information.

[Also: ONC contest winners find innovative algorithms to fix patient matching problem]

Data access also needs to be seamless and streamlined for providers, especially for use with PDMPs. However, CHIME contends that challenges with integrating EHRs with PDMPs are hindering that capability.

For example, some states restrict access to prescribing data. Some providers can see the data but can’t share it with other providers or even take a screenshot.

“Removing restrictions around sharing information contained in PDMPs is critical to quality care,” wrote Branzell and Earle. To the group, this also means targeting state governance to remove barriers at the local level, or “prescribers will continue to have an incomplete picture of a patient.”

[Also: HHS plan for the opioid crisis: Track prescribing patterns with Medicaid data]

CHIME also provided recommendations on how Medicare and Medicaid can better prevent, identify and educate health professionals with high-prescribing patterns of opioids. The group stressed the need for better EHR-PDMP integration, combined with data-driven reports to identify prescribing patterns.

Further, clinical decision support should be leveraged to offer evidence-based treatment, Branzell and Earle wrote. The group said it will help providers find appropriate treatments that may or may not include prescribing opioids. The tool can also provide prescribing guidelines.

“CDS is one piece of the EHRs,” Branzell and Earle wrote. “These systems overall need to be able to better support a more holistic approach to managing and treating addiction as a disease.”

Further, CHIME stressed the need for harmonization of state and federal policies, such as consent policies. The group noted that there is currently no national consent policy.

CHIME has made an active effort to join the response to the opioid epidemic. The group launched an opioid task force in early February in hopes to rally chief information officers to join the effort. The task force held its first meeting shortly after with about 24 attendees and is working on creating broader participation among its 2,500 members.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
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