We see the effects in the news each day, and hear more and more about it from family members, friends and acquaintances. Almost everybody knows someone who has somehow been affected by the current opioid crisis plaguing the nation.
From coast to coast, healthcare providers are recognizing the need to combat the crisis. Its impact is devastating for those addicted and for their loved ones, with lives being changed forever. That’s a terrifying thought for anyone.
While overwhelming at the surface, it’s not impossible to overcome the current crisis. Those who are committed to making an impact can positively affect the trajectory within the U.S. It involves a strategic approach involving healthcare, technology and policy all coming together to stamp it out.
To get ahead of it all, however, we need to take steps today. From improvements for delivering care to a regulatory approach, there are specific areas of focus to manage and overcome the crisis across the country.
Informed, integrated care via connectivity
Whether on paper or digital, providers across healthcare settings are required to record vital information about a person’s health status, creating a historical record. Unfortunately, our health needs do not always align with one single physician or clinician for everything; we see different providers in various specialties and practices throughout our lives. That means quite a few providers may have valuable health information about us at any given time – information that can be priceless in delivering fully-informed care. There is a saying that knowledge is power. The more information a clinician has at their fingertips, the better they can make informed care decisions. Having this information can lead to improved outcomes for individuals as well as reduced delivery costs for provider organizations.
Here’s a scenario. If you’re an individual in recovery from an opioid addiction who arrives in the emergency department due to an ankle injury playing recreational basketball, it would be imperative that a physician has access to not only history of your other ankle injuries but also a window into your substance use history to avoid prescribing opioids to control pain. By having a complete view of a patient’s health history and status, both physical and mental, providers would be able to consider an alternative treatment plan for pain management.
Since we know access to information is vital, how do healthcare organizations set themselves up for success to ensure they are able to obtain data in a simple, secure and timely manner? To start, organizations should adopt technology that can connect to data sharing networks such as Carequality, regional health information exchanges and state prescription drug monitoring programs. The data provided from these connections assists providers in sharing physical and mental health data along with social determinants that give them the chance to consider a full gamut of details when determining the best care plan. This also helps avoid any unnecessary treatments or ill-informed approaches to care, which can be detrimental to an individual’s health and the overall cost of care.
The benefits of being connected are clear when it comes to clinical functions, but it doesn’t stop there. Connectivity creates efficiencies and convenience across all aspects of an organization - from admissions to billing and everything in between, saving organizations countless hours of duplicate work and reducing the chances for human error.
Connectivity and interoperability alone aren’t the answer; they’re part of a larger picture. In upcoming installations of CareThreads, we’ll continue to explore additional areas of focus for providers who want to make a true impact when it comes to battling the opioid crisis. Click to read more ways to address the opioid crisis in our 6-point EHR checklist to address the opioid crisis and stay tuned for more.
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