The new Trump administration program to fight the opioid crisis is suggesting a constructive data-based approach to monitoring problematic prescriptions through its proposal for a national prescription drug monitoring network, says the head of Health IT Now, an industry coalition.

“Instead of tinkering around the edges with tweaks to our existing Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, the White House’s opioid plan looks to be taking a bolder stance: embracing our proposal for a new nationwide interoperable prescription safety alert system,” says Joel White, executive director at Health IT Now, representing patient, provider, employer and insurance organizations seeking incentives to use health information technologies to improve care and outcomes.

The nationwide initiative complements the role of PDMPs “while addressing troubling blind spots in the current system to deliver real-time information to clinicians at the point of care,” White says.

He is encouraged by administration suggestions to embrace a model based on the National Council of Prescription Drug Programs standards, saying the plan would give clinicians tools to prevent fraudulent controlled substance prescriptions from getting to patients.

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Health IT Now envisions a NCPDP-like program run by the private sector under a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services that would complement prescription drug monitoring programs by providing access to real-time clinical data at the point of care when clinicians are prescribing or dispensing. This would tamp down on doctor and pharmacy shopping by patients.

Currently, 49 states have a prescription drug database, but they all have different ways of operating, making data sharing difficult, White notes. And none of these state databases detect attempts by patients who get a prescription at one pharmacy, then walk across the street and get the same script at a different pharmacy. What’s needed, White believes, is a national database that detects all such attempts in real-time.

“How do we get the best information before the physician to show a red flag, such as a patient getting multiple prescriptions?” he asks. “We need real-time information to the clinician at the point of care so they can make a good decision. Some databases talk to others, most don’t. This just begs for a cloud solution to display prescription data across state lines.”

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