Ochsner Health System Adds Louisiana Prescription Monitoring Program To Its Daily Operations

Platform aims to comabt opioid abuse

 NEW ORLEANS – Ochsner Health System physicians can now access a new, advanced electronic health records platform aimed at helping combat opioid addition and substance abuse.

Louisiana is the sixth-highest state the U.S for written opioid prescriptions. In 2016, 561 people died from opioid addiction statewide.

"Ochsner Health System started an opioid stewardship program in 2016 to address the opioid issue," said Debbie Simonson, vice-president of pharmacy services for the Ochsner Health System.

A partnership with the Appriss Health PMP Gateway platform system allows for cutting-edge, highly-integrated prescription data to be accessed immediately by doctors to see a patient's prescription history—including if the patient is getting prescriptions from different states.

Prior to working with Appriss Health, physicians and pharmacists needed to log into a separate website in order to retrieve a patient’s controlled substance dispensations from the state database and then cross-reference that data with a patient’s health information. It was a very complicated and time-consuming process.

“One of the big things with these electronic medical records is how we integrate that into day-to-day prescribing,” Simonson said. "By doing this, we are creating a more complete picture of our patients as we make better informed clinical decisions about their appropriate medical treatment, while engaging in more ‘real’ conversations with our patients about their health and well-being.”

In addition to day-to-day prescribing by doctors, the Appriss Health platform also has advanced pain-management guidelines for emergency room doctors, including a patient “calculator,” that suggests pain medication dosage based on patient data such as age, weight and prescription history, including patients on opioids already.

The calculator gives patients a "morphine equivalent" based on their statistics, Simonson said.

Simonson said this new platform has been implemented by all of Ochsner’s clinics, pharmacies and ambulatory teams. The health system has also shared their findings and outcomes from the platform with other organizations and hospitals.

There are now 32 states using the Appriss Health’s PMP Gateway platform, according to Simonson. About 25 million transactions are being completed per month through the platform.

“Guidelines from the Center for Disease Control put more emphasis on making sure emergency departments did not treat pain (with opioids), and that we need to refer them to primary care doctor,” Simonson said.

The best medicine is prevention

Ochsner has several programs at its facilities in New Orleans and on the North Shore aimed at preventing opioid addition and providing resources for those who are addicted.

“We piloted a virtual-reality program, whereby patients having a procedure can decrease any associated pain by changing their area of mental focus,” Simonson said.

The Ochsner pain team and community outreach team are working to address other effective non-opioid pain regimens, including making sure parents learn about the dangers of children finding pain pills in their parents or grandparents' medicine cabinets.

On the North Shore, patients have support groups and suboxone groups. Doctors are obtaining more study grants and working with other health systems in other states in order to see what’s working, Simonson said.

“All this data uses modern, valuable tools to help us make sure we don’t miss something; our goal is to take better care of our patients,” Simonson said.

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