A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and posted on their web site highlighted the fact that most U.S. studies of national trends in medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids have focused on adults. Given the limited understanding in these trends among adolescents, the AAP examined national trends in the medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids among high school seniors between 1976 and 2015.
A study published by Penn State University revealed that overdose deaths from prescription opioids in the U.S. quadrupled from 1999 to 2015, reaching 22,000 in 2015. This increase has been fueled by a dramatic rise in the amount of opioids being prescribed, creating a vast supply of drugs at high risk for misuse. Prescribers, therefore, are a vital link in addressing the current epidemic of overdose deaths and substance use disorders. The challenge is to develop and implement systems that help prescribers identify potential cases of misuse or diversion, while still allowing appropriate prescribing of opioids for pain control.
A recent article on the Healthcare Law Today web site discussed how telemedicine providers are dealing with e-prescribing and controlled substances. As providers become more comfortable with delivering care via telemedicine, telehealth, and digital health technologies, some are exploring services beyond low acuity consults. One area of opportunity – and notable confusion – is prescribing controlled substances via telemedicine. This particularly affects specialties that couple chronic disease management with pharmacotherapy.
Electronic-prescribing (e-prescribing) is one part of the larger move to increased utilization of health information technologies (HITs). Along with other HITs such as electronic health records, telehealth, and health information exchanges, e-prescribing is seen as a tool for improving patient-centered care. The potential benefits of e-prescribing are extended to prescribers, payers, pharmacies, and patients. In general, the benefits of e-prescribing fall into the following categories: patient safety, improved prescribing, efficiency/workflow, and cost savings.
An article in Medical Economics entitled: “Electronic prior authorization: The solution to physicians' headaches,” outlined the benefits of electronic prior authorization (ePA). Electronic prior authorization not only reduces the work and cost involved in prior authorizations, but also makes patients happier. Instead of being forced to wait a day or two for a pre-authorization to arrive, usually after an unsuccessful trip to the pharmacy. With ePA patients are able to get a prescription approved before leaving the physician’s office.
Medication adherence is a crucial component in the treatment of chronic diseases. In the elderly, clinicians are faced with a unique set of problems associated with adherence for which they may not be adequately trained. The different factors affecting medication adherence in the elderly are many: patient, medication, health care providers, healthcare system, and socioeconomic factors.
Lack of medication adherence has a significant cost associated with it, as well as causing adverse healthcare outcomes.
A mysterious virus called Zika began to spread rapidly around the globe a few years ago, leading the World Health Organization (WHO) to issue a global emergency. The latest outbreak began in Brazil in May 2015 and has since affected at least 1 million people in more than 30 countries. Experts say the disease has “explosive pandemic potential” and could infect millions of more people, if precautions are not taken.
In 2015, Vermont became final state to legalize e-prescribing of controlled substances. E-prescribing proponents have long said that electronic prescriptions are more secure than paper prescription pads, particularly in stopping illegal dispensing of narcotics.