HIT leaders unify, advocate for tech reforms to solve opioid crisis

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Healthcare information technology leaders have joined forces to help harness the power of HIT in an effort to address the opioid overdose epidemic that continues to ravage the country.

Health IT Now, a coalition of patient groups, provider organizations, employers, and payers, has launched the Opioid Safety Alliance, which is designed to serve as a “unified, multi-stakeholder advocacy effort from the health IT community to drive solutions that prevent abuse while promoting legitimate access to needed medications.”

The Opioid Safety Alliance, which includes IBM, Intermountain Healthcare, McKesson, Oracle, RelayHealth, and Walgreens, is dedicated to advancing a HIT-centric policy agenda.

“The technology-enabled reforms proposed by Health IT Now’s Opioid Safety Alliance will not only offer new paths to recovery for those suffering from an opioid-related addiction, but also carry the potential to help intervene before addiction sets in,” said David Guth, CEO of Centerstone, one of the country’s largest not-for-profit providers of community-based behavioral healthcare. “We are pleased to be part of this first-of-its-kind multi-stakeholder effort.”

Specifically, the group wants to seek the following reforms from Congress:

  • Ensure clinician access to substance abuse information by breaking down silos in patients’ medical records so that all information, including substance abuse history, is available to providers.
  • Reimburse innovative care delivery models in Medicare and Medicaid, and eliminate regulatory barriers to providing treatment virtually through telehealth—among other technologies.
  • Provide additional funding for prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) enhancements, including allowing interoperability across states.
  • Enact a Facilitator Model for Patient Safety to ensure that information flowing to providers, pharmacists, and state databases is easily-accessible, secure, and available in real-time.

Also See: States need to share prescription data to combat opioid crisis, finds commission

“Opioid Safety Alliance members have coalesced around bold, actionable solutions that bring the full force of technology to bear in solving this crisis,” said Joel White, executive director of Health IT Now. “Together, we are fighting to strengthen our network of prescription drug monitoring programs with a facilitator that transmits information securely, in real-time, and captures data from across state lines. We are also working to reform privacy laws that, for too long, have kept doctors in the dark by isolating patients’ addiction records from the rest of their medical history.”

According to Health IT Now, the group will begin its advocacy efforts immediately by providing testimony at the January 30 meeting of the Food and Drug Administration’s Opioid Policy Steering Committee.

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