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.
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.
- Drugs not covered (benefits and eligibility checks)
E-prescribing provides real-time, patient-specific information to providers regarding a patient’s prescription drug benefit coverage as well as the out-of-pocket costs the patient will incur at pharmacy for prescribed medications. The cost of prescribed medications is a leading cause of patient non-adherence to drug therapy. Formulary checks at the point of care, result in better prescribing practices. A drug formulary is a list of prescription drugs, both generic and brand name, used by practitioners to identify drugs that offer the greatest overall value.
Opioid medications are prescribed to alleviate pain and suffering, but their abuse and misuse is killing more than 33,000 Americans every year. Prescription painkiller abuse is a problem of epidemic proportions and a significant national public health challenge. The good news is that states are increasingly taking action against this epidemic with an important weapon: health information technology in the form of e-prescribing.