Price of Addiction: Oregon ERs now know exactly how often you’ve visited, received painkillers

Portland Business Journal,

clinical4-1All but two Oregon hospitals are on board, or almost so, with a new online information exchange that is already giving emergency room doctors a tool to better assess patients and prevent drug seeking.

Already, ER doctors are hailing the Emergency Department Information Exchange as an invaluable tool.

At this point, 92 percent of Oregon’s 59 hospitals are receiving notifications and 97 percent have signed agreements with the company that created the system, according to the Oregon Health Leadership Council.

“So far, technically, there have been no glitches we know about,” said Sharon Fox, operations director for the OHLC.

Fox said two hospitals in far Northeastern Oregon that haven’t yet hooked up to the system may do so as well, along with VA Portland Health Care System.

Here’s how it works: When a patient comes to an ER, the system flags them if they have visited any ERs five times in the previous 12 months or three times in the past three months. Such high usage generates a detailed report.

“Ideally, it has concise, relevant and actionable information in real time that can be used by emergency physicians,” Meieran said.

The information helps emergency doctors route the patient “to the optimal place for care,” she said.

“The goal is not just to decrease ED utilization by high-utilization patients but to coordinate their care,” Meieran said.

The doctor will also know immediately if the patient has been prescribed certain opioid medication and they have a “pain management contract.” Oregon has the highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country, so such information is invaluable. In Washington, the same system led to a 24 percent decrease in opioid prescribing from ERs.

“That’s something we’d love to see in Oregon,” Meieran said. Washington is also linking the system to its Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which may happen in Oregon as well.

The project is a collaboration between the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, Health Leadership Council, Oregon Chapter of American College of Emergency Physicians and Oregon Health Authority.


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