Health IT Now’s new Opioid Safety Alliance focuses on leveraging technology to fight opioid misuse

Hydrocodone opioid pills
Health IT Now is spearheading a new alliance of providers, IT companies and health associations aimed at using technology to address opioid misuse. (Getty/smartstock)

A new alliance launched by Health IT Now features providers, technology startups and medical associations geared towards leveraging data and technology to combat the opioid epidemic.

The Opioid Safety Alliance, which includes Intermountain Healthcare, Walgreens, the Association of Behavioral Health and Wellness, IBM and the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs, to name a few, plans to focus on “advancing technology-enabled solutions to combat the scourge of opioid misuse,” Health IT Now announced on Thursday.

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

Among the group's key focus areas: reforming federal regulations that limit substance abuse data sharing between clinicians, leveraging telehealth and digital tools to expand substance use disorder treatment options and advocating Congress to make “smart, targeted investments” in technology to enhance prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP).

“Opioid misuse is a 21st-century epidemic and it demands forward-thinking, 21st-century solutions,” Health IT Now Executive Director Joel White said in an announcement. “Together, we are fighting to strengthen our network of prescription drug monitoring programs with a facilitator that transmits information securely, in real-time, and captures data from across state lines. We are also working to reform privacy laws that, for too long, have kept doctors in the dark by isolating patients’ addiction records from the rest of their medical history.”

The group is scheduled to testify next week at the Food and Drug Administration’s Opioid Policy Steering Committee meeting.

David Guth, the CEO of Centerstone, one of the nation’s largest behavioral health providers, added that the reforms pushed through the alliance will assist with treatment and “carry the potential to help intervene before addiction sets in.”

A final report released by the White House opioid commission in November outlined more than 50 recommendations to address the opioid crisis, including several that broadly focused on improving data collection efforts. Specifically, the commission called for more widespread use of analytics to drive treatment, mandatory PDMP checks and supported legislation that would require states to establish PDMPs and fund a data-sharing hub led by the Department of Justice.

President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency in October, loosening restrictions on telehealth addiction treatment and prescribing.

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