In response to America’s spike in prescription drug abuse, medical professionals, law enforcement officials and policy makers have sought out solutions to combat the epidemic. One recent solution is to prescribe controlled medications electronically. Surescripts, a health information provider, released the results of a study titled the “2014 National Progress Report,” which demonstrates how electronically prescribing controlled medications can possibly reduce incidences of prescription fraud and prescription drug abuse in the United States.
Dr. Sean Kelly, chief medical officer at the cybersecurity company Imprivata, has stated that prescribing controlled medications electronically could potentially reduce prescription fraud, improve patient care and help secure evidence of prescription abuse. He states that by electronically prescribing controlled medications, “a paper prescription and a physician’s DEA number are never in the hands of the patient, which minimizes the risk of fraud or theft.” He also commented that this service “improves care for patients with legitimate needs by reducing both wait times at pharmacies and the number of trips they need to make to the doctor’s office.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), both prescription drug overdoses and the number of prescriptions written for narcotics have quadrupled since 1999. In response to this high number, the CDC has launched numerous initiatives to increase prescription drug abuse awareness and prevention programs. One of these initiatives included “When the Prescription Becomes the Problem,” a campaign introduced at the National RX Drug Abuse Summit. President Obama’s drug control priorities for this coming year include improving methods of drug addiction treatment, making Narcan (an opioid antagonist) more accessible and assigning additional fund towards states that already have a prescription drug monitoring program in place.
According to the 2014 National Progress Report, 75 percent of pharmacies in the U.S. are equipped to receive electronic prescriptions for controlled substances. However, only 1.4 percent of prescribers for controlled medications are set up on the system. Despite these numbers indicating a hesitancy to adopt this new system among physicians, rates of electronically prescribing controlled medications has grown. The study revealed a 400 percent increase in e-prescriptions in 2014 – in total, 1.67 million e-prescriptions were made that year.
Currently, two million Americans abuse prescription opioids and, in the face of this stark number, the Surescripts network could fight the epidemic by electronically monitoring prescriptions and connecting physicians. “I see the physical and emotional toll that opioid abuse takes on patients and their families every day in the emergency room. E-prescribing can be an effective tool in fighting that abuse,” says Dr. Kelly. He added that physicians are eager to embrace this new technology “as long as it is good technology that speeds our workflows and allows us to make better informed decisions that increase patient safety.”
In Surescripts’ report, each state is ranked on its readiness to electronically prescribe controlled medications. The state rankings were based on three factors: the percentage of controlled medications that have been prescribed electronically the percentage of physicians who are equipped to electronically prescribe and the percentage of pharmacies equipped to use the technology. The top 10 states for electronically prescribing medications based on the aforementioned criteria were as follows:
8. Rhode Island
While it may take some time for physicians to adapt to the new e-prescribing system, the medical field is gradually warming up to this means of preventing prescription fraud, helping the fight against the prescription drug abuse epidemic. Until more definite means of preventing this substance abuse issue are in place, treatment facilities can help reverse the effects of addiction.
Sovereign Health Group offers a wide range of inpatient and outpatient treatment options for patients who are struggling with drug addiction, mental health disorders and dual diagnosis conditions. If you know someone who is battling with drug addiction and is in need of addiction treatment, please do not hesitate to call 888-530-4614. Our specialists will be happy to assist future patients find an effective treatment program.
Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer