The impacts of the opioid crisis are widespread and destructive, with more than 130 people dying every day from drug overdose. Those who are hit the hardest are often not actively represented in the discussion surrounding drug use. It’s important to understand how both post-acute and human services organizations can address the issue head-on using technologies, best-practices and new strategies.
In this webinar, Mary Gannon RN, Netsmart chief nursing officer, speaks with panelists Jennifer Hancock, president and CEO of Volunteers of America of Mid States, Chris Hasson, president and CEO of Symetria Health, Dr. Chuck Klein, Netsmart director of medical management and Billie Whitehurst, Netsmart general manager of Homecare regarding the impact of the opioid crisis on underserved communities such as foster care, palliative care and pain management.
“The presence of opioid drugs and deaths associated with opioids are climbing on a day-to-day basis,” Gannon said. “So, what are our strategies for improvement here? What can we do to assist with this opioid crisis?”
There are several strategies for improvement both community providers and government policy Gannon spoke on, including Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP), Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), targeted Naloxone distribution and continued education and support for providers and community members on the front lines. These proven tactics can be incorporated in many ways depending on the population served and the style of care delivery.
Symetria Health works to defeat the opioid crisis in its community by providing a true comprehensive care model, meaning all aspects of the individual are addressed in the treatment plan. Care is provided by an onsite treatment team consisting of American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) physicians, physiatrists, nurses and licensed counselors. Instead of being prescribed, medication is dispensed and managed, and care is coordinated in real-time through a single electronic health record (EHR). These efforts result in a 38% - 80% better treatment than usual.
Serving a specific, niche population, Volunteers of America of Mid States’ Freedom House treats opioid addiction using a holistic and individualized approach to help pregnant women and mothers achieve recovery, give birth to healthy babies and reunite them with children who have been removed from custody.
“Kentucky has some significant negative health outcomes that we are seeking to address,” Hancock said. “We are addressing these issues by developing a program that brings women into treatment as soon as they discover they’re pregnant in order for them to become clean and healthy, allowing them to deliver clean and healthy children.”
They use a two-generation solution that delivers customized age appropriate treatment to children in addition to their parents. Freedom House works to break the cycle of inner-generational addiction in hopes of healing kids from the trauma they’ve experienced. The program has proven to be successful, as Freedom House is about to welcome its 200th healthy born baby.
The opioid epidemic widely affects post-acute communities, as 25% of patients taking opioids experience symptoms of withdrawal and abuse. Netsmart works to combat the opioid crisis in all care settings, and specifically in post-acute care through solutions that empower value-based care and person-centered care models. For example, the Care Management solution looks at social determinants of health to help build a multi-dimensional approach to care.
“We are serving providers who are serving the elderly population, who are often vulnerable and at high risk with many comorbidities,” Whitehurst said. “We counter this through providing solutions that support clinicians and the patients themselves, giving them direct access to useful tools.”
In addition to these organizations’ strategies, technology acts as a great partner in working to end the opioid crisis. Many tech advancements have allowed for more information sharing, which is crucial when dealing with drug use treatment.
“There have been a lot of advancements in technology as it relates to providing treatment,” Dr. Klein said. “Especially in the transmission and sharing of data that give us as clinicians information that may not otherwise have been available. This is so helpful when treating individuals with addiction.”
Seamless information sharing includes electronic medical histories, which empower providers to see which medications an individual has received, and if they’ve been prescribed opioids in the past. Technology also eliminates paper prescriptions through electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS). This adds security and privacy, as paper prescriptions are easily stolen or forged.
When asked how technology is used to manage medication in their organizations, the panelists agreed technology can play a major role in controlling and monitoring prescription drugs in their communities, as well as delivering holistic care to induvial affected by the opioid crisis. Whitehurst spoke about the home care setting specifically, where the direct ability for clinicians to connect to the PDMP network is a considerable advantage for efficient medication management. Another is the capability to connect with other providers from an e-prescribing perspective, which helps to control and streamline a clinician’s workflow. Technology also gives patients direct access to their providers, which can prevent an emergent issue from arising. Overall, technology plays a hand in all care settings when it comes to medication management, as it allows for efficiencies, data sharing and better coordination among providers.
“Technology is crucial,” Hassan said. “The Netsmart system is brilliant with this because it allows all of the data to be integrated into one source. It allows the dosing to be there, physicians to see it, the counselors to see it; we utilize every part of those aspects.”
Check out the full webinar here. Be sure to stick around for an informative Q&A session you won’t want to miss!
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