Dealing with the opioid epidemic will be among top concerns for health care providers this year, says a new report by the PwC Health Research Institute. How can HCOs leverage data analytics to help prevent addiction?

Update: Dr. Rosenberg testified before Congress on March 22, 2018, on a new bill he co-authored based on his Alternatives to Opiates (ALTO) program, The Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) in the Emergency Department Act. If approved, the bill will designate funds for expanding the ALTO program nationwide.

Using data analytics to monitor prescribing patterns and applying risk stratification strategies can be important tools

Dealing with the opioid epidemic will be among top concerns for health care providers this year, according to a new report by the PwC Health Research Institute. Abuse of opioids and addiction often begin with a legitimate prescription for pain management, so controlling the flow of opioids starts with the prescription pad. Health care providers can leverage data analytics strategies to address the issue, preventing prescription misuse and educating both prescribers of pain management drugs and their patients.

Changing Opioid Prescribing Practices

The PwC Health Research Institute reports that many providers expect to change their prescribing practices in 2018 to help lower “the number of patients who unintentionally develop dependence through misuse or overuse of legally provided medications.” HCOs will also “work with payers, public health officials, pharmacies, community organizations, and first responders to take a more proactive approach to opioid addiction.”

Part of this broad strategy is using data analytics to monitor prescribing patterns and conducting risk stratification using social determinants. This means obtaining and working with detailed, timely, and relevant information to determine the clinicians’ prescribing habits in order to target protocol change.

Analytics tools allow the transparent monitoring of individuals and site compliance, and can help identify practice patterns and variations, as well as help physicians identify effective alternatives to opioids based on diagnostic subgroups or conditions.

d2i Drills Down Into Data

A recent study, based in Massachusetts, which has one of the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths in the country (ranking 7th in 2015), indicated that providing physicians directly with individualized data on how their opioid prescription rates compare to their peers hasn’t had any measurable impact on reducing the number of patients receiving the medication. Simply put, just making the prescribers aware of their prescribing habits is not enough to make any effective change in reducing opioid use in patients.

In contrast, d2i gives you the entire patient timeline including detailed data and related factors. Acuity, time of day or day of the week, diagnosis grouping, and comorbidities are all factors which can influence prescribing variation.

d2i combines data from all sources into a single platform and allows filtering based on any of the data fields without relying on an EHR vendor or IT department to build the data extract.

Data Analytics in Action

The Emergency Department at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Patterson, New Jersey, has developed the Alternatives to Opiates (ALTO) program, an effort to prevent opioid prescribing in acute pain management. Since its launch in January 2016, the program has treated more than 300 patients without the use of opioids, instead using alternatives like nitrous oxide, ultrasound-guided nerve blocks, targeted non-opioid medications, and more. Conditions treated included back pain, migraine, broken bones, and kidney stones.

Dr. Mark Rosenberg, the medical center’s Chairman of Emergency Medicine, and Chief Innovation Officer, was instrumental in developing and using ALTO. He has called it “a national model for combatting opioid use.” He added:

Patients had relief of pain and excellent satisfaction without the use of addicting drugs like opioids. All protocols are chemically focused on chemical receptor sites that mediate the patient pain.

Beyond the Emergency Department

Overall, more effective use of analytics and better access to prescribing data are among the keys to reducing the opioid epidemic. Since EDs only account for a small portion of this growing epidemic, it’s also crucial to extend the effective use of data beyond the ED to all health care organizations or physicians who are interested in prescribing fewer opioids.

By using the right data analytics tools, health care providers can see immediate results in the effectiveness of patient treatment. d2i’s platform provides the user with an intuitive interface for data drill-downs and filtering, among other benefits. Please contact us for more information on our analytics tools, or to schedule a 30-minute demo.