How Can Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Help Patients and Physicians?

Prescription opioids are highly addictive. When misused or overprescribed, opioids can cause serious health problems and — in some cases — death. Stopping the prescription of opioids altogether won’t necessarily fix the current epidemic. In fact, it could harm chronic pain patients and other individuals who need them to help manage their pain. 

But using a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) can help physicians identify patients who might be misusing their prescriptions or who are at risk of an overdose. PDMP EHR integration already plays a huge role in helping physicians and healthcare officials manage the pandemic. In our latest article, Iron Bridge explores the use of PDMPs and their potential for helping the U.S. battle the opioid epidemic. 

The History of the Opioid Epidemic

Understanding the history of the opioid epidemic is crucial for building solutions that can successfully address it

prescription bottle and pills

Before looking at solutions for handling the opioid crisis, we need to backpedal a little bit and look at the history of the epidemic

  • 1970’s — A large stigma around addiction led physicians to avoid prescribing opioids for their patients. Instead, they recommended surgical operations for blocking nerves to prevent them from receiving pain signals. 
  • 1980’s — During the 1980s, the U.S. passed intractable pain treatment acts that allowed physicians to aggressively treat their patients’ pain without fear of prosecution. 
  • 1990’s — Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin to the market. The company, along with other pharmaceutical manufacturers, began to heavily market their products to physicians. In their marketing materials, Purdue emphasized the safety and low-risk for addiction by these prescription opioids. 
  • 2000’s — Reports of overdoses and deaths from prescription opioids began to rise. 
  • 2007 — Purdue admits that they knew the pills were highly addictive, leading to a $635 million fine for them.
  • Present — Prescription drug manufacturers are designing new formulas to help prevent the misuse or abuse of their medication. 

This timeline only gives a quick overview of a complicated subject that involves misleading marketing tactics, a lack of knowledge in pain management practices, heroin and fentanyl abuse, and lobbying groups who are pushing against CDC guidelines designed to combat the epidemic. But it’s important to note that the history of the opioid epidemic traces back years and involves a number of moving parts. Healthcare providers must keep this in mind when looking up different ways to successfully combat the epidemic. 

Tracking Prescribing and Dispensing of Controlled Prescription Drugs

So, how can the U.S. successfully manage the opioid epidemic and help prevent opioid addiction among citizens? Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are already showing promise in helping physicians track their patients’ prescriptions and identify potential prescription drug misuse. In the next section, we will take a closer look at these programs and how they are helping healthcare providers manage the epidemic. 

Everything You Need to Know About Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) EHR Integration

A growing number of states have started to see the potential in PDMP EHR integration

Pharmacist scanning barcode of medicine drug

What is a PDMP?

A prescription drug monitoring program is an electronic database where physicians can track and analyze controlled substance prescriptions in a certain state. Healthcare professionals can use this program to make informed prescription and clinical decisions and protect patients who are at risk of addiction. 

While results are mixed at the moment, the CDC has found that the use of PDMPs has influenced prescribing behaviors and decreased the rate of admissions to substance abuse treatment centers.  

Main Features of PDMPs

PDMPs offer a number of promising features such as:

  • Universal use among different states
  • Real-time feedback
  • Active management
  • Easy access for physicians

Universal use among different states

Some states have already started requiring physicians to check a state PDMP before prescribing certain controlled substances to patients. This ensures PDMP use is maximized among healthcare professionals. 

Real-time feedback

After dispensing controlled substances to patients, pharmacists must enter these prescriptions into a state PDMP. Entering them in real-time rather than days or months after the fact can significantly affect patient safety. 

Active management

State health departments can use PDMPs to identify high-risk patients and inappropriate trends in prescribing certain medications. They can then formulate interventions for these observations. 

Easy access for physicians

Some states have already begun to integrate PDMPs with electronic health record (EHR) systems. This lets physicians give other health professionals like physician assistants and nurses permission to view information on  PDMP.

Nuvola Hub Hi-Paas

physicians looking at tablet

If you’re looking for a PDMP for your own healthcare practice, the Nuvola Hub Hi-PaaS offers world-class service and support when it comes to tracking opioid prescriptions. With the Nuvola Hub Hi-PaaS, users can track prescriptions between multiple providers and pharmacists. In addition to Iron Bridge’s implementation services for the Nuvola Hub, we also offer 24/7 interface monitoring and support. Whether you need help managing your full healthcare integration infrastructure or want assistance with integrating your PDMP with your EHR portal, the Nuvola Hub can help your organization achieve its operational goals. 

Managing the opioid epidemic and its devastating effects is no mean feat. But prescription drug monitoring programs offering promising capabilities for physicians. If you’re looking for an efficient PDMP for your own organization, the Nuvola Hub might be the perfect solution for you. Contact one of our team members today to learn more about this innovative EHR integration solution.

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