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Today, Surescripts joined more than 70 healthcare organizations in supporting the Healthcare Leadership Council’s “Roadmap for Action” offering guidance for healthcare professionals, lawmakers and regulators to address the opioid crisis.

Surescripts has long championed greater use of health information technology to help rein in the opioid crisis, but with nearly five people dying from opioid-related overdose every hour, and the epidemic costing the nation nearly 3 percent of GDP in 2015, it’s clear that a comprehensive, industry-wide approach is needed.

The Roadmap identifies five priorities to address opioid abuse:

  • improving approaches to pain management;
  • preventing opioid misuse; 
  • expanding access to substance use disorder treatment services; 
  • increased use of care coordination through data; and
  • paying for care that is coordinated and high-quality.

In our recent paper, “Changing the Course of the Opioid Epidemic: The Power and Promise of Proven Technology,” Paul Uhrig, Surescripts Chief Administrative, Legal and Privacy Officer, outlined how technology can help address drug diversion, including the illegal use of prescription opioids, and clinical appropriateness, including effective uses of opioids for patients with legitimate needs. We’re pleased to see so many of these technologies represented in the Roadmap, in particular E-Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) and Medication History.

Over the past few years, the private sector has dramatically increased its use of e-prescribing, from 1 billion prescriptions in 2013 to 1.74 billion in 2017. Yet, despite this vast growth, we still need to overcome a significant gap in adoption and use of the tool that can help combat the epidemic.

In 2017, Surescripts delivered 77.3 million electronic prescriptions for controlled substances. This number represents just 19 percent of all controlled substance prescriptions, with just 26.2% of prescribers enabled for the technology as of May 2018.

EPCS is just one tool in our arsenal to fight opioid abuse. Robust, electronic medication history data is available nationwide across all care settings. Having an up-to-date view of a patient’s medication history at the point of prescribing empowers prescribers to make the best care decisions for their patients. In fact, Surescripts delivered more than 1.46 billion medication histories in 2017.

In addition to EPCS and electronic medication histories, a number of other clinical tools can help prescribers and clinicians provide appropriate care while navigating the opioid crisis.

These technologies are all available today. Public-private collaboration to advance smart legislation and regulations can serve as a critical catalyst for their wider adoption.