Clinical tools, electronic monitoring are C-suite priorities to fight opioid crisis

Premier survey shows executives at U.S. health systems are prioritizing their response to the crisis because technology may be among the most important tools to manage it.
By Mike Miliard
01:02 PM
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opioid crisis

As the opioid crisis continues to ravage the United States, hospitals and health systems are on the front lines of the battle. Commanding majorities of C-suite leaders say their organizations see the epidemic as one of their top priorities – and are marshaling technology resources to help fight it.

A new survey from Premier shows that 90 percent of execs from member health systems are focusing on the opioid crisis as an imperative for 2018. Hospital leaders are focusing their efforts on assessing patients to evaluate their pain levels upon admission, educating their staff about resources for safe opioid use and exploring alternative methods for pain relief, the study shows.

[Also: Ochsner integrates opioid monitoring tool into its Epic EHR]

Patient education is key too, of course, and health systems are focusing on engaging those patients on smart pain management treatment and safe use of opioids. They're also collaborating with state, local and community partners.

But in the opioid battle, technology may be among the most important tools: Health systems are increasingly relying on advanced clinical decision support, automated patient alerts, e-prescribing practices and continuous electronic monitoring of patient-controlled analgesia, according to Premier.

Premier CEO Susan DeVore said Premier’s members are striving to improve pain management issues to reduce misuse and addiction. 

[Also: Intermountain tweaks Cerner EHR in bid to reduce opioid prescriptions]

To that end, Premier offers its members medication surveillance tools that can give them real-time alerts on high-risk drugs and dangerous drug-drug interactions, monitoring patients who are prescribed high-dose or long-acting/extended-release opioids. The technology also offers advice and recommendations for co-prescribing naloxone and feature educational tools for patient and families who may need to administer naloxone in cases of overdose.

Those hospitals taking part in Premier’s Hospital Improvement Innovation Network, meanwhile – it's part of the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services Partnership for Patients program – are also participating in an initiative to measurably improve pain management among providers, clinicians and patients/families.

Premier also recently launched its Safer Post-operative Pain Management pilot program, with more than 30 hospitals working together to redesign care delivery processes to better manage pain and the potential for drug addiction.

The alliance has also published a Safer Pain Management Toolkit for its 3,750 hospitals and 130,000 provider members. If provides a repository of all Premier group purchasing contracts, suppliers, services and programs in the pain management space and allows members to search for alternative therapies, devices that monitor oxygen and carbon dioxide levels to avoid respiratory-related side effects and infection prevention treatments to improve the immune system’s response to opioids.

The toolkit also offers analytics on opioid visits, utilization and prescribing practices in the emergency department at nearly 650 Premier hospitals, allowing other providers to benchmark themselves against against national data.

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com