Mercy Health earns HIMSS Davies Award for innovative approach to opioid fight

The Ohio health system implemented analytics and decision support to reduce opioid prescriptions.
By Bill Siwicki
01:27 PM
Mercy Health's Anderson Hospital in Cincinnati

Mercy Health earned a 2018 HIMSS Davies Award of Excellence for its work in using health IT to help treat the opioid epidemic.

The award recognizes outstanding achievement of organizations that have used health information technology to substantially improve patient outcomes and value, and spotlights organizations promoting health information and technology-enabled improvements in patient and business outcomes through sharing evidence-driven best practices on implementation strategies, workflow design, change management and patient engagement.

While the Ohio health system achieved the Davies for work targeting opioids, for instance, Louisiana-based Ochsner Health earned a Davies late last month for its work with EHR-connected tools that clinicians are using to more effectively treat patients with diabetes and hypertension.

"Mercy Health has successfully leveraged analytics tools and decision support to make it easy for providers to select the correct pain management approaches and reduce opioid prescriptions," said Jonathan French, SHIMSS, senior director of quality and patient safety initiatives at HIMSS.

In doing so, Mercy is also part of a growing legion of hospitals and IT vendors, that are working to apply both tech and policy to the opioid epidemic, as well as states establishing prescription drug monitoring programs.

Mercy Health integrated the state's PDMP into the provider workspace, affording clinicians access to multi-state data in line with review of the patient's chart and the utility of a fully compliant and pre-configured set of medication orders. By providing access to this information, Mercy Health immediately scaled a vital patient safety tool to its network of 1,300 employed providers.

By making it easier for providers to recognize and act on this data, Mercy Health is taking action to reduce potential harm to patients and improve outcomes in the midst of this challenging population health problem.

The newly configured opioid orders display necessary information – including strength, dispense quantity and frequency – to the provider at the time of prescribing and align with morphine equivalent daily dosing, or MEDD, and total day supply limits as outlined by Ohio law.

The tool includes an auto calculation of the MEDD for all active opioid orders. The tool also provides additional clinical decision support to alert prescribers when orders exceed either the MEDD or the day supply set by Ohio law.

Mercy uses an opioid analytics platform built on a database that permits evaluation of opioid prescribing behavior at the order, provider, department, specialty, market and enterprise levels. Frequent monitoring of the data cube enables Mercy Health to track progress for two key opioid performance metrics, including the MEDD limit for acute pain prescriptions and opiate burden.

Due to the overwhelming need to address the negative impacts of the opioid epidemic, particularly in the state of Ohio, providers and staff continually assess and act on multiple data sources describing opioid prescribing patterns. The key to enabling this activity in an effective and sustainable manner is to incorporate the data into an intuitive and seamless workflow.

Since launching the tool, Mercy Health has improved opioid prescribing practices throughout its system by reducing total opioid orders by 13 percent, the rate of opioid orders to all medication orders by 22 percent, the total morphine equivalents prescribed per patient by 23 percent and more, Mercy reported.

"In addition, Mercy has utilized a variety of technology solutions to reduce gaps in care for their outpatient services, while also enhancing revenue through improved clinical documentation in their inpatient facilities," French said.

Mercy COO of IT Matt Eversole said the system focuses on using technology to better collaborate and improve care quality.

"We are honored to be recognized with the HIMSS Davies Award for improving outcomes in our communities by using technology to amplify the impact of the care our clinicians deliver," Eversole said.

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Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
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Analytics, HIMSS19
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