McKesson presses Trump commission to leverage pharmacists, patient safety network to fight opioid epidemic

IT company wants to bring patient data into the pharmacist’s workflow, with real-time flags -- in the same manner they see insurance information and copay amount.
By Jessica Davis
11:48 AM
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opioid epidemic

McKesson is calling on the Trump Administration to implement a number of recommendations to help combat the opioid crisis.

In a letter to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the chair of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, McKesson Senior Vice president of Public Affairs Pete Slone laid out some crucial health IT -- and policy needs to begin the fight against the addiction crisis.

One major recommendation is for the commission to support a National Patient Safety Network able to identify patients with prescription histories that reveal a higher risk of opioid abuse or misuse than the average patient.

[Also: As vendors target opioid crisis, familiar tech hurdles slow them down]

The platform would complement statewide prescription drug monitoring programs, which are designed to assist law enforcement to identify doctor shoppers and aren’t included in a physician’s EHR workflow. Further, PDMPs lack real-time data, which are critical to providers looking to verify a patient’s prescribing history.

McKesson’s idea is to bring that data into the pharmacist’s workflow, with real-time flags -- in the same manner they see insurance information and copay amount. When pharmacists see a red flag, they can voluntarily provide that information to the state’s PDMP and call the prescriber to verify the legitimacy of the script.

[Also: Meet the health IT vendors working to end the opioid crisis]

The National Council for Prescription Drug Programs first created the idea, and McKesson has been working with a coalition to make the tool a reality.

Also included in its recommendations is that all state require e-prescribing, fully leverage data analytics to identify at-risk patients and improve information sharing among PDMPs.

But Sloane feels that a key element is missing from really making an impact on the opioid crisis: input from pharmacists.

“Our country’s opioid epidemic is the public health crisis of our time. We must make it a priority to harness the full breadth of all our clinical capabilities… Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to have a comprehensive view of a patient’s health status,” Sloane wrote.

“Given our country’s impending physician shortage crisis and the availability of highly skilled, medically trained pharmacists that are ready and able to help now, we encourage the administration to consider policies that make it easier for pharmacists to provide MAT and other clinical services to individuals suffering from opioid addiction,” he said.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com