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The abuse and addiction of prescription drugs, such as opioids, have reached epidemic proportion and rapidly evolved as a public health crisis, resulting in misuse, overdose, and death (Ayres & Jalal, 2018). The inappropriate use of opioids both legally and illegally have drastically affected the health and well-being of many Americans of all social and economic levels. Dealing with the opioid addiction and misuse is seen as one of the most significant issues faced by the U.S. health care system. However, with the support of information technology, health care professionals can play a vital role in the US efforts to deal with the opioid crisis.
The use of information technology has become a standard of practice by the health care industry as an effective strategy to access and manage clinical, financial, and administrative patient information. Health care informatics is the application that includes the acquiring, storing, retrieving, and the use of health care information to foster and improve the quality, safety, and delivery of patient care.
Health care informatics presents the ability to link information technology and the health care arena to organize, analyze, and improve the management of patient data and clinical care.
The purpose of this assignment is to identify and explore an area of health care informatics that is of interest to the writer. The area of health care informatics selected for the final paper is the electronic prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) as a valuable information technology tool to confront the opioid epidemic in the US. The goal of the PDMP is to address and detect prescription drug diversion and abuse and to serve as an early warning system of possible drug abuse and diversion (Islam & McRae, 2014).
In addition, the PDMP can help practitioners identify drug-seeking behaviors by the patient who may be seeking care through multiple practitioners to obtain opioid prescriptions.
As a health care professional working in the emergency room, this topic is of special interest to the writer because patients frequently access the emergency room (ER) seeking care for chronic pain and either requesting or received a prescription for opioids. As a result, many ERs have seen an increasing number of patients overdosing on opioids, which further tax and drain resources of an already overcrowded ER. In turn, health care professionals may not be able to respond to other seriously ill patients with heart attacks, strokes, and other emergencies because the health care team is trying to stabilize an overdose patient.
In 2017, the opioid epidemic was declared an emergency public health crisis (Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS], 2018). The US population represents 4.6% of the global population; however, Americans consume an estimated 80% of the opioid supply worldwide (Barth et al., 2017).
According to Bao et al. (2016), more than ten million Americans reported using opioids non-medically in 2014 that was obtained through multiple prescriptions from many prescribers, a behavior known as doctor shopping. Both prescription and non-prescription opioid abuse and misuse has reached epidemic proportion in the US (Barth et al., 2017; Pauly, Slavova, Delcher, Freeman, & Talbert, 2018; Ringwalt, Garrettson, Alexandridis, 2015). Opioid overdose is now considered the leading cause of accidental death in the US, which has more than doubled since 2002 for all age groups (Barth et al., 2017; Brown et al., 2017).
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