CHIME begins raising funds for Opioid Health IT center

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The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives is working to raise funds for its newly created Opioid Health IT Action Center.

At its CHIME18 CIO Fall Forum in San Diego this week, the organization said it’s launched a fund-raising campaign for the center, which is a web-based repository for healthcare organizations looking for resources and knowledge on the opioid crisis.

The drive has already raised $130,000 in commitments, says Bruce Cerullo, co-chair of the Opioid Task Force and CEO of Nordic.

“As leaders in health IT, we have real solutions and knowledge available to curb this terrible tide of human loss and suffering,” Cerullo says.

The CHIME Opioid Task Force was launched earlier this year to leverage the knowledge and expertise of the CHIME membership to find and share IT-based solutions that address the opioid crisis. The catalyst for its formation was the accidental opioid-related death of Tim Kopetsky, the son of CHIME founding member Ed Kopetsky, CIO of Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital. Ed Kopetsky is co-chair of the task force and co-chair of the fundraising campaign.

The task force and CHIME have hosted three webinars and assembled a subcommittee to write a playbook for CIOs. In addition, CHIME’s public policy team and the CHIME Public Policy Steering Committee have made the opioid epidemic a priority topic and are working with federal agencies and policy makers to promote opioid initiatives and legislation that members support.

More organizations are using technology and coordinating efforts to counteract the opioid crisis. “Opioids are not a blue-collar epidemic or a white-collar epidemic; it’s everyone’s epidemic,” says John Kravitz, CIO of Geisinger. His organization is using technology as part of an overall effort to reduce opioid prescriptions.

For example, it’s widely using electronic prescribing for controlled substances rather than paper prescriptions. Electronic prescriptions for controlled substances “is a big satisfier for patients who really need it,” Kravitz says. “And it eliminates the ability to steal scripts so they can be sold. Prescriptions are encrypted so they can’t be hijacked and go directly to the pharmacy.”

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Other steps to reduce prescriptions are getting a boost from IT’s ability to coordinate and manage prescription practices.

“We now have meetings with patients, including the surgical team and the surgeon,” he says. “We tell patients a simple thing—you will have pain from this procedure, and we would prefer not to prescribe opioids because of the addiction risk. Previously, a lot of medications were routinely prescribed—oral surgeons would prescribe 30 days’ worth of opioids, and that’s enough to get you hooked for life.”

As a result of its coordinated efforts, Geisinger has reduced opioid prescriptions 65 percent this year, compared with 2016.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Kravitz concludes. “This is something that won’t go away.”

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