Deaths from using opioids results in 70,000 deaths each year. Neal Neuberger, President of Health Tech Strategies led a Capitol Hill Lunch Briefing October 1, 2018, to discuss the range of technologies that could or are now being used to address the opioid crisis.
Neal mentioned several pieces of legislation and bills that show legislative efforts are being made by both the House and the Senate. Just recently, the 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill included a $3 billion increase to address the addiction crisis, making a total investment of $7.4 billion for 32 key programs to enable the federal government to respond to the opioid crisis.
The “Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act, (H.R.6) was introduced to help in overall efforts to combat the opioid crisis by advancing treatment and recovery initiatives and to help communities fight deadly illicit synthetic drugs like fentanyl.
In addition, Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced the “Access to Telehealth Services for Substance Use Disorders Act” (H.R. 5603) that would waive certain Medicare telehealth requirements in the case of some treatments for an opioid use disorder.
The Capitol Hill event enabled leading healthcare information technology organizations to voice their thoughts and ideas on how to find appropriate and workable solutions to effectively manage opioid intake in our society.
Speakers included Tania Malik, Head of ATA Telemental Health SIG at the American Telemedicine Association https://www.americantelemed.org, Jennifer Covich Bordenick CEO of the eHealth Initiative https://www.ehidc.org, Joel White Executive Director for Health IT Now https://www.healthitnow.org, Tom Leary VP, Government Relations for HIMSS https://www.himss.org, and Graham Dufault, Senior Director for Public Policy for the App Association’s http://actionline.org Connected Health Initiative.
Speakers from the organizations offered comments and suggestions on how to deal with the crisis such as:
- Remove restrictions that fight mental health treatments
- Increase the use of broadband within the U.S
- Use technology at the point-of-care effectively
- Develop new telehealth reimbursement structures
- Continue to push and use e-prescribing
- Enable prescribers to use more efficient pre-authorizations for prescriptions
- Enable state PDMPs to have the correct data available on all patients at all times
- Have conversations on dealing with the crisis with corporations, universities, and other stakeholders
- Have CMS address reimbursement issues for payment models
- Readdress the Telecommunications Act to take into consideration 5G
- Pass the bipartisan ALERT Act (H.R, 6888) to enact a Prescription Safety Alert System
Speakers from major companies such as Intel, LifeWire, Centene, and SureScripts shared the importance for technology to be brought in to fight this devastating public health emergency.
Wendy Bohner, Solutions Architect, for Intel Health & Life Sciences https://www.intel.com mentioned how blockchain is going to play a central role to expand knowledge, sharing of data, and provide a trail for the movement of drugs. In other words, with the use of blockchain there will be a continuous tracking model for prescriptions especially controlled substances.
Howard Rosen, CEO /Founder, LifeWIRE Corp https://www.lifewiregroup.com described how LIFEWIRE provides technology trends for companies. The goal is to help patients and doctors manage post-surgical pain. This can be accomplished by having conversations between doctors and patients virtually to help manage the transition to OTC medications as the need arises.
As Chief Administrative Legal & Privacy Officer at Surescripts, https://surescripts.com, Paul L. Uhrig, pointed out, “Although controlled substance prescriptions are an important therapeutic option for many patients, it turns out that 13 percent of total prescriptions are controlled substances with the potential for addiction and abuse.”
Added to this fact, states have varying regulatory requirements. The result is that in Ohio, 84 percent of prescriptions involve controlled substances as a result of prescribers not always adopting technology such as EHRs and e-prescribing to help control the problem.
Ending with a discussion related to workforce issues, Ross Hoffman, MD., CMO, Evolve Pharmacy Solutions at Centene Corp https://www.centene.com, wants to efficiently support and certify the workforce in communities to help workers effectively deal with recovery issues involved in drug abuse.
Go to https://www.youtube.com/warch?v=e-KlgNU5C2A%feature=youtu.be for the event video “Capitol Hill Brief: A Range of Technologies to Address the Opioid Crisis”.