Electronic scripts could aid fight against opioid abuse

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Since 2016, electronic prescribing of controlled substances has been legal in all 50 states, an initiative that is helping to fight the opioid abuse epidemic, but that form of prescribing is not mandated in all states.

Mandate or not, physicians treating patients with opioids need to go electronic, contends Bob Twillman, executive director at the Academy of Integrative Pain Management.

The organization oversees federal and state pain management policy developments with a mission to advance a person-centered integrative model of pain care. It also offers education and certification programs on the treatment of pain for physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and other prescribers.

Twillman contends that electronic prescribing helps prevent fraudulent prescriptions. By using computer-generated and network-distributed prescriptions, patients would no longer have access to paper prescriptions for controlled substances—such paper orders can potentially be taken to multiple pharmacies.

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Importantly, electronic prescriptions leave an electronic trail, giving a physician insight into what other providers are prescribing for their pain patients.

That’s why the 4,800 prescribing members of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management use the Surescripts electronic prescribing network, Twillman says, and he urges other providers to go electronic and never give patients an opioid prescription on paper.

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“Electronic prescriptions are a great patient tool because you have more evidence on who else is prescribing to help prevent overuse and forgeries,” Twillman says. “Secure messaging lets you leave notes to other providers, such as ‘I am the only one prescribing for this patient, so send him back to me.’ ”

Having just one prescriber is one of the key tenets in safe opioid prescribing, he adds. “Electronic prescribing is just a good clinical tool for providers to be using. What this does is give you more information.”

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