Health IT Now’s Joel White says real-time PDMP data sharing could be up and running in 6 months

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Improved prescription data-sharing and a focus on workflow will "pay dividends" on lives saved from opioid addiction, writes Joel White. (Getty/smartstock)

On the heels of a report by the President Donald Trump’s opioid commission that pushed for enhancements to prescription drug data, one health IT trade group says those improvements, plus more emphasis on clinician workflow, could be fully operational in just six months.

Arguing that “lawmakers would be remiss to ignore the pivotal role that health IT can play in seaming the deadly tide” of the opioid epidemic, Health IT Now Executive Director Joel White said the industry’s contributions go well beyond what the president’s task force has outlined.

RELATED: Trump’s opioid commission recommends PDMP enhancements, federal data hub

“PDMPs have served a vital role in combating the opioid crisis but, today, we are not leveraging these tools to their fullest potential,” White wrote in an op-ed for Morning Consult. “A lack of interoperability, incomplete data, and other troubles leave physicians and pharmacists without important information to thwart inappropriate prescriptions and make the best possible clinical decisions for their patient’s wellbeing.”

Each state varies widely in terms of how it uses and transmits prescription data which creates data silos and reduces data sharing to “trying to carry on a conversation between two people using a walkie-talkie and an iPhone,” he added.

Although the opioid commission’s report calls for improving the use of prescription data, White wrote that incorporating real-time PDMP data directly into EHRs will improve workflow. He said a national data-sharing platform that mirrors Canada’s Drug Information System could be in place within six months and “would pay dividends in the lives it saves.”

RELATED: Mandatory PDMP participation helped 3 states drive down opioid prescriptions

Some states, like Indiana and Michigan, have already begun integrating PDMP data into EHRs, an added efficiency that experts argue will improve compliance among physicians. But state officials say those efforts will take as long as three years to complete.

Meanwhile, funding is a considerable barrier. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in the process of awarding nearly $30 million in 2017 appropriations to 44 states and the District of Columbia to improve prescription data collection efforts. However, one criticism of the opioid commission’s report was the lack of funding required to implement more than 50 recommendations. The president’s 2018 budget proposal includes a reduction in grant funding to improve PDMP data collection.