America has a growing problem with prescription opioids. The number of people abusing drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin only seem to be growing from one year to the next, and it’s unavoidably true that the number of overdose deaths from opioid overdoses, including overdoses from both legal prescription drugs and illegal drugs like heroin, are only going up. At this point, opioid overdose has surpassed car accidents as the number one preventable fatality among adults.
Clearly something needs to be done, and a variety of organizations both big and small are trying out different programs to try and lower painkiller abuse rates and help those who are already addicted. Shatterproof, an addiction recovery community, is reaching out to opioid addicts despite their focus on alcoholism, the CDC has released new guidelines for doctors on how and when to prescribe opioid painkillers, and the makers of OxyContin have reformulated the pill to make it less easy to abuse.
One abuse prevention method which the federal government is touting is online prescription-tracking databases. The idea is for doctors to register their opioid painkiller prescriptions to make it harder for drug abusers to get redundant prescriptions, and while that’s a good idea doctors aren’t very fond of the idea of adding yet one more step to every patient’s visit.
These databases are already in place in 49 states, but their current implementation varies significantly between states and in most cases they leave a lot to be desired. Although the goal is for every database to communicate with each other and to update in real time as doctors log prescriptions and pharmacists fill bottles, none of the state databases can currently accomplish this. They also aren’t nearly as useful as they ought to be since participation is voluntary.
Still, prescription-tracking databases do seem to help where they’re mandatory, plus they can also help doctors make sure a patient doesn’t get a dangerous drug combination. More states are starting to pass laws which require their use, and as such doctors will simply have to get used to them, warts and all.
Fortunately, there is a way for physicians to make checking these databases less of a hassle, along with many other administrative tasks: hire a scribe service. Scribe services like ProScribe provide hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities with well-trained medical administrative assistants who can field phone calls, assemble medical records and test results, and check online prescription databases so that doctors are free to spend more time with patients and making diagnoses. They’ll even have time to see more patients, and on average our clients find that our service pays for itself when physicians see just two more patients per day.