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Healthcare IT may curb prescription drug abuse

Medical IT solutions could potentially help combat the abuse of prescription drugs.

Medical IT solutions could potentially help combat the abuse of prescription drugs.

Officials in several states are hoping that medical IT innovations will help to curb prescription drug abuse, according to an article in the August issue of Healthcare IT News. Specifically, prescription drug monitoring programs (PMPs) are seen as an opportunity to identify patients who are seeking drugs from multiple physicians for improper use.

Statewide PMPs collect patient prescription histories submitted by pharmacies and various medical practices so that healthcare professionals can make more informed decisions related to medications and treatment.

According to the article, 49 states have PMPs in place – with Missouri being the only holdout – though only Oklahoma has a real-time system while other states like Maine make participation in the program optional. This means that the PMP databases are only updated once a week – leaving prescription drug abusers with a significant window of opportunity – and many healthcare facilities may not even submit data at all.

"[PMPs] can cut down and have cut down on prescription fraud for patients who go to multiple doctors in an attempt to feed their own addiction," said Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. "Because of having a real-time system, they're not able to simply go to one ER and complain of back pain, get a drug, and then go across the street within an hour, see another doctor in a different ER."

PMP can be fully integrated with electronic health records (EHR) and other IT assets, streamlining a medical facility's operations and care management. Healthcare IT consultants can help practices implement and manage these systems while simultaneously providing lower IT support costs.

Computer support for medical offices goes beyond simple virus protection and troubleshooting these days. Now, it provides integration of crucial technologies that allow physicians to provide a higher quality of care and dramatically improve the healthcare industry as a whole.