By Julius Heil, Intalere President and CEO
Most healthcare executives, even five years ago, could not have foreseen the devastating impact the opioid epidemic would have on the healthcare system and the country as a whole. On a personal level, almost everyone has been touched in some way. In terms of healthcare impact, issues around the proliferation of opioids are driving a 20-30 percent increase in ER visits, significantly affecting costs.
There are many national, regional and statewide initiatives addressing the opioid crisis that have recently begun and individual providers have started to step up as well.
Intermountain Healthcare has pledged to reduce by 40 percent the average amount of opioids prescribed per acute pain prescription at its 22 hospitals and 180 clinics by the end of 2018, becoming the first U.S. health system to formally announce such a significant and specific amount of reduction as a target.
To achieve the 40 percent reduction, Intermountain will introduce new tools and policies for its caregivers to reduce the number of opioid tablets the organization prescribes by more than 5 million annually. Intermountain has already provided training to approximately 2,500 caregivers within its system, with plans to expand training to additional prescribers in Utah and Idaho communities. Intermountain is adding prompts and default order sets into its electronic health records to help reduce the number of tablets prescribed.
Providers both large and small must follow suit and engage with other community resources to implement definitive measures to reduce the negative impact of this epidemic, while making sure that those patients who are in need have the access to the medication and other pain management options they truly need.
Check out the latest videos, Help Solve the Opioid Epidemic, Part 1 and Part 2, in our Flash Series and stay tuned in the coming weeks for more posts and videos about 12 Things Healthcare Must Achieve.
You can also download the executive briefing at intalere.com.