The Opioid Crisis, PDMP, and Interoperability

Barbara Mullarky

Barbara Mullarky

Director, Product Management at SRS Health
Barbara has had a successful career in the healthcare industry, working for both vendors and healthcare provider organizations. She has held roles in sales, marketing, product management and professional services, working with EMR and department-focused solutions for the laboratory and imaging.

Prior to becoming the Director of Product Management at SRS, Barbara was with GE Healthcare (now GE Digital), where she held the positions of Senior Product Marketing Manager for Centricity imaging products, Product Marketing Manager and Customer Collaboration Leader for what is now Caradigm, and Upstream Marketing Manager for Centricity Laboratory. Barbara also worked at the University of Arizona Medical Center, where she managed a team that was responsible for implementing and maintaining 27 departmental IT solutions, the ambulatory EMR and the patient safety initiatives.

Originally from New Jersey, Barbara now lives with her husband in Tucson, AZ. She is a graduate of the West Virginia University College of Medicine and is a registered Medical Technologist. When not at work, she loves traveling, taking photographs, watching football and spending time with her two Brittanys.
Barbara Mullarky

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opioid-blog-image-1The National Crisis

The opioid epidemic makes the news at least once a day in my neck of the woods.  Patients, providers and the government talk about the problem and how they’re going to solve it. Drug companies advertise Naloxone as something that you should have on hand as a first response to an overdose, just like having an Epi-pen on-hand is recommended to respond to severe allergic reactions. One of the most talked about solutions for physicians and eligible provides is the PDMP or Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

What is a PDMP?

A PDMP is a state run system that records data on prescriptions for Schedule II to V narcotics. Currently, 49 states plus the District of Columbia have implemented a PDMP. Missouri is the only state without a statewide PDMP. The contents of each can vary based on the laws of the state, but generally the database is populated by pharmacies when a prescription is dispensed and, in some cases, by the dispensing physician or insurance claims. There are some holes in the databases. In some cases, federally operated pharmacies such as those on military bases, are not required to submit data. In other cases, prescriptions paid for in cash are not submitted. And they only contain the data for prescriptions written in your state. For those of you who live in towns that border neighboring states, your patients may have their prescriptions filled in a different state than where you practice.

While not perfect, PDMPs are one of the best tools available today to help practitioners understand their patient’s drug history and the patient’s potential to be an abuser.  There are documented successes with PDMPs. New York mandated the use of PDMPs in 2013, and in that first year, doctor shopping decreased by 75%, the number of opioid doses dispensed decreased by 10%, and the number of prescriptions for buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, increased by 15%.[1] In 2012, Kentucky became the first state in the nation to pass legislation mandating comprehensive PDMP use. That legislation led to a 13% decline in opioids dispensed, a 25% decline in prescription opioid deaths, and an almost 90% increase in prescriptions for buprenorphine, a medication to treat opioid addiction.[2]

Making connectivity difficult

Today, 39 states require a provider to check the state’s PDMP before they write a prescription for an opioid. Since not all states use the same software (some are homegrown), the ability for EHR vendors to connect to these databases is not easy or simple.  Some states, like New York, are simply not ready for EHRs to connect. This makes your workflow and the workflow of your staff difficult.opioid-blog-image-2

Figure 1 Information current as of January 2019

Is Your Prescribing Workflow Optimized?

Working with our partners at DrFirst, SRS Health now provides a seamless workflow to allow providers to check the PDMP for 35 states. Three other states are in process. With just one click, the patient’s medication history is displayed and the date that the PDMP check was performed is recorded in your state’s database and made available within the EHR’s prescribing application.

Interstate checking of PDMPs is also available for 47 participating states so practices in border towns can see not only their state PDMP data but that in neighboring states as well. Practices just need to request access to other states at implementation. If access is available across states, it will be set up as part of the installation.opioid-blog-image-3

Figure 2 Connectivity as of November 2018

What else will help?

PDMPs are one of the tools available for clinicians to help fight the opioid crisis. Utilizing electronic prescribing for controlled substances is another tool. EPCS prevents prescriptions from being altered or copied and refilled multiple times.  Pharmacists tell stories about how a 30-day supply has become a 130-day supply.

MYTH: Not many pharmacies accept electronic prescriptions for controlled substances. FALSE

According to Surescripts, > 95% of pharmacies in the US are EPCS enabled[3],[4] while physician and provider adoption remains low, with only 31% of providers using EPCS. New York leads the nation with 93.8% of controlled substances prescribe electronically. North Dakota, Maine, South Dakota and Minnesota round out the top five with 57%, 41.2%, 37.3% and 34.2%.[5]

While only 5 states require EPCS (Arizona joined the ranks as of January 1), ePrescribing of opioids is coming. Six more states have passed laws that go into effect from January 1, 2020 through January 1, 2022. In October, 2018, the federal government passed the Opioid Response Act[6]. A portion of the act called the “Every Prescription Conveyed Securely (EPCS) Act will require electronic prescribing for patients covered by Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans of all Schedule II-V narcotics beginning January 1, 2021. Earlier in the year, retail giants Walmart and Sam’s Club announced that they will require EPCS for all controlled substances by 1/1/2020 – less than 12 months from now!

How can you prepare?

For SRS Health EHR users, the answer is simple. We’re ready so you can be ready too. With our new Rx application, powered by DrFirst, we deliver an integrated eRx, EPCS, PMDP access and mobile application that allows you to meet all the state and federal mandates and help improve patient care. Just contact your account manager to learn more.

For non-SRS Health EHR users, check with your EHR vendor to see what capabilities they offer. Contact us if you’d like to learn more, our team is ready to help.

Citations:

[1]  Shatterproof, et al. “Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs: Critical Elements of Effective State Legislation.” March 2016.

[2]  Shatterproof, et al. “Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs: Critical Elements of Effective State Legislation.” March 2016.

[3] Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances, Surescripts

[4] E-Prescribing Pharmacies

[5] E-prescribing up more than 500% since 2015. Health Information Technology, May 8, 2018

[6] Senate easily passes sweeping opioids legislation, Washington Post, October 3, 2018

The Essential Elements of Value-based-care Success

Khal Rai

Khal Rai

CEO at SRS Health
Khal Rai brings over 20 years of leadership experience to his role as President and CEO at SRS. He possesses a breadth of knowledge and expertise in the healthcare and technology sectors earned through a career that has spanned the globe. His passion for collaboration, strategic development, and delivering healthcare IT solutions that make it easier for medical professionals to deliver care while navigating the ever-changing healthcare industry, inspires and motivates his team, while positioning SRS Health clients for current and future success. Khal has a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Cincinnati, and an M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University.
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For a medical practice to operate successfully, all its constituent parts need to fit together as seamlessly as the atoms in a molecule—because that’s what it takes to succeed in today’s changing healthcare environment.success-blog-image

In a water molecule, for example, the oxygen atom is balanced and supported by the push and pull of two hydrogen atoms. This simple structure nourishes all life on the planet. But remove one of the atoms and the molecule ceases to exist, breaking down into its component elements of hydrogen and oxygen.

In much the same way, a medical practice is held together by the push and pull of different elemental forces. The doctor is supported by—but also has to balance the demands of—the clinical and financial sides of the practice. When this is done successfully, the result is a caregiving structure that nourishes the health of the patient. If the balance is lost, however, the practice begins to break apart, disrupting the equilibrium between the business of medicine and patient care.

Keeping this already precarious balance has become even more challenging with the shift to value-based medicine, which has altered the healthcare paradigm from doctor says/patient does to doctor/patient collaboration—adding another element to the healthcare molecule—the patient. Now, in addition to keeping up with the latest clinical developments and keeping the practice fiscally afloat, doctors have to find ways to bring the patient into the loop.

This year’s User Summit gave healthcare providers a forum for discussing what it takes to succeed in the evolving, value-based healthcare environment, and it gave us a chance to showcase the innovations we have developed to help you keep the right balance between the elements.

So how do we involve patients more deeply in the healthcare process? How do we make sure that they are informed and engaged with their care team, that they understand and comply with their care plan, and that they are financially supported in maintaining care?

For us at SRS Health, the challenge is to develop solutions that reduce the barriers between the patient and the practice. This means providing practices with tools that:

  • offer both speed and flexibility,
  • improve both the clinical and patient experience,
  • remove physician and clinical team distractions while still providing true mobility,
  • streamline the efficient collection of relevant data and corresponding intelligence at the point of care, and
  • address the healthcare consumer’s role in driving patient satisfaction and practice financial health.

In other words, finding practical innovations that support all of the elements of healthcare in achieving success.

3 Proven Ways to Improve Practice Profitability and Clinical Performance Using Outcomes

outcomes-blog“Why should we collect data?”

“What’s the ROI of PROs?”

“How do providers and practices use outcomes data most effectively?”

These are great questions, and we get them all the time. Prospects, clients, and partners constantly look for the most valuable and effective ways to utilize outcomes data. Our answers and advice typically vary, but we inevitably reply with a question of our own: “What are your goals?” Clinic goals, quality goals, business goals, marketing goals and others factor into play when utilizing quality data.

This article focuses on the three that, in our opinion, provide the most significant ROI potential for a PRO collection program:

  • Negotiating with payers
  • Internal physician quality reviews
  • Marketing

At OBERD, we know our role: we’re the data collection experts. And for good reason: Our clients likely don’t think about data collection nearly as much as they’re thinking about how to improve their practice, how to differentiate their providers, and how to grow margin by negotiating more favorable reimbursements from payers. Outcomes data plays a role in all three. Let’s dig in.

Below, we identify three core initiatives common at most orthopaedic institutions and discuss how quality data plays a key role each.

Payer Negotiation

When preparing for payer negotiations, administrators, QA staff and physicians can gather and utilize outcomes and satisfaction data that highlight the practice’s attention to quality and demonstrate its continuous improvement in outcomes scores.

Armed with quality data relating to patients and procedures, administrators can drill down and have data-driven negotiations with payers to gain more favorable reimbursement rates in contracts.

And it’s worth it to payers. If they know a provider has high (and predictable) quality metrics, they know the provider will, more than likely, get it right the first time. They can hedge against re-admissions and complications because they have the data that demonstrates low risk.

This is especially useful in larger metropolitan areas where competition for the patient population is fierce. Providers and institutions who can demonstrate quality and value, backed by data, are a safer bet for payers.

Physician Reviews

Administrators and quality managers may struggle with physician quality reviews if they’re not armed with data-driven quality and satisfaction metrics. PRO data, especially when blended with Satisfaction data, can give an administrator a quantified view of the quality a physician provides.

Practical use cases include identifying why a surgeon’s quality scores are high for a specific surgery (or even a specific patient cohort), and utilizing that data to refine methods for other under-performing providers.

Imagine the following conversation between an administrator and surgeon: “Dr. Smith, can no longer perform a total knee for patients with a BMI over 20 because outcomes scores are too low and it makes the practice vulnerable to margin if it affects our payer contracts. Dr. Smith needs to adjust your process, perhaps by adopting Dr. Jones’s approach because Dr. Jones’s scores are above average on benchmarking reports. Or we can change workflow triage that patient cohort (<20 BMI) out of Dr. Smith’s patient schedule.”

Data-driven Marketing

It seems like every time we hear about an orthopaedic surgeon, you also hear, “he’s the best” or “she’s the best.”

Surely not every surgeon is the best, even among their local market or patient population. But practices and providers have benefited from anecdotal reputations like, “he’s the best” for years. In the future, a claim of being, “the best” needs to be backed up.

Just like so many other consumer purchasing decisions, prospective patients are first turning to the internet for reviews and fact-finding about a surgeon prior to going for a consult. Practices and providers who collect data can also demonstrate quality by leveraging data in data-driven marketing messaging.

Savvy practices have already begun advertising their data collection initiatives. Advertising shows how providers collect quality data using patient questionnaires in order to tailor care to a unique patient, or make recommendations based on “patients like you.”

That line of advertising instills a sense of ownership in the patient. They intuitively understand that the questionnaires they complete play a role in the care they receive, giving them an onus of control in the process. Therefore, data collection is an effective, credible way to market value-based care.

As seen in OBERD’s Insights Blog.

Better Patient Reported Outcomes Lead to Better Outcomes

Barbara Mullarky

Barbara Mullarky

Director, Product Management at SRS Health
Barbara has had a successful career in the healthcare industry, working for both vendors and healthcare provider organizations. She has held roles in sales, marketing, product management and professional services, working with EMR and department-focused solutions for the laboratory and imaging.

Prior to becoming the Director of Product Management at SRS, Barbara was with GE Healthcare (now GE Digital), where she held the positions of Senior Product Marketing Manager for Centricity imaging products, Product Marketing Manager and Customer Collaboration Leader for what is now Caradigm, and Upstream Marketing Manager for Centricity Laboratory. Barbara also worked at the University of Arizona Medical Center, where she managed a team that was responsible for implementing and maintaining 27 departmental IT solutions, the ambulatory EMR and the patient safety initiatives.

Originally from New Jersey, Barbara now lives with her husband in Tucson, AZ. She is a graduate of the West Virginia University College of Medicine and is a registered Medical Technologist. When not at work, she loves traveling, taking photographs, watching football and spending time with her two Brittanys.
Barbara Mullarky

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Outcomes is a hot topic in the healthcare industry. It is one of the criteria being used to define value-based reimbursement strategies and, more importantly, to drive better care for patients.

For some time now, payers and government agencies have been using traditional measures to evaluate outcomes, assessing the number of patients who were readmitted within 30 days, or how many post-surgical infections occurred. For the most part, this data was retrospectively analyzed; it was used to put process improvements into place, but it seldom took into account patients’ own opinions on how they were doing. Ultimately, how can we claim a successful outcome if the patient doesn’t subjectively experience an improvement in health and well-being?

outcomes-blog-v2Many EHRs provide some level of clinical decision support—reminding doctors of how long it has been since an osteoporosis patient’s last bone scan, or when it’s time to review an arthritis patient’s therapy and order blood tests for his or her medications. Some might put this in the category of outcomes, but to me, they are really alerts. Can they affect outcomes—of course! But do they really tell us how the patient is doing?

To change this paradigm, practices are moving toward collecting and measuring patient reported outcomes (PROs). The National Quality Forum defines PROs as, “any report of the status of a patient’s health condition that comes directly from the patient, without interpretation of the patient’s response by a clinician or anyone else.” PROs provide data on what patients are able to do and how they feel by asking questions. They not only cover the clinical aspects of pain, swelling, and range of motion, they assess the patient’s reported status for physical, mental, and social well-being.

In orthopaedics, standardized surveys such as PROMIS, HOOS, and KOOS have been designed to collect patient-reported information before and after surgical procedures. This allows physicians to prospectively and retrospectively evaluate data provided by their patients.

Prospectively, the surveys can be used to determine the factors that will drive a better outcome for the patient. Using best practices standards, physicians can make a determination prior to taking action as to how successful the outcome will be. By discussing potential outcomes, lifestyle factors, and behavioral changes with the patient before surgery is scheduled, doctors can better predict the outcome and recommend the best path—all while controlling costs. For example, if a patient does not have reliable transportation to get to follow-up appointments and physical therapy, physicians might provide information on local transportation services or decide on inpatient versus outpatient rehab.

Retrospectively, if a patient reports unsatisfactory results, doctors can gauge the patient’s feedback against the original expectations of the treatment plan. It might be that the patient is meeting, or even surpassing, the predicted outcome. That little piece of information might change the patient’s outlook and get him or her back on the path to success. Alternately, doctors can determine what could have been done to either reach a better outcome, or develop a more accurate prediction. These learnings can be implemented as best practice to drive better outcomes for future patients.

PROs can also be used as a benchmarking tool, as a way to gauge success against others in the same practice or the same market.

Today, only 35% of orthopaedic practices are collecting outcomes data. Part of this is due to the complexity of managing the process—of collecting, analyzing, and making the data relevant. The most critical step is of course getting the patient to respond to surveys, but equally important is presenting that data in a way that orthopaedists can review it and share it with the patient at the point of care, during the appointment. This allows them to intervene quickly when a negative outcome is reported. Imagine a future when a patient reporting a pain level of 9, a knee that is red and swollen, and an inability to stand without assistance automatically triggers a message to your office to call and intervene. Not only can this save the patient an unnecessary trip to the emergency room, but it can potentially save the practice money if it is doing bundled payments.

At SRS, we believe that the process of collecting and acting on patient reported outcomes should be as automated as possible, and should all take place in the same system you work in, day in and day out—your EHR. That is why we have made this vision a reality with our integrated Outcomes solution.

Like Holiday Gifts, “Patient-centric Care” is about Quality, Not Quantity

The end of the December is a time for reflection on the closing year, and for making plans for the new one. It’s a time for top-ten lists and New Year’s resolutions. But for now, let’s focus on one of the top buzzwords of the year in healthcare: Patient-centric care. 

It’s actually been several years now that patient-centric care has been gaining buzz-worthy status, and like most trendy new concepts, it has often been used without a clear consensus on what it actually means. Most recently, for instance, it has become a catchall term for any care that offers a more comprehensive focus on the patient. And that should make us pause and think—how in the world did medicine ever lose its comprehensive focus on the patient? There have been many factors, to be sure, but the primary driver seems to have been physicians’ and practices’ need to align themselves with payment models that rewarded the volume of visits over the value of care.

This has permeated all levels of healthcare for many years. Whether it was the development of healthcare IT strategies, the crafting of EHR systems, the HIMSS stages of adoption and utilization, or the use of performance scorecards and data warehouses and analytics—all the focus was on maintaining high volumes of patient care, while a comprehensive approach to the patient often got lost in the flood of individual symptoms, tests, and treatments.

That is, until the recent sea change in the industry that shifted payment models from rewarding for quantity to rewarding for quality. This was a necessary correction, but the resulting increase in focus on value-based contracts puts healthcare providers at risk for the total cost and quality of care provided.  It has also highlighted significant holes in IT and data strategies that need to be addressed if an organization is successful in this new payment paradigm. At the top of that list of necessary improvements is patient engagement.

How to Engage? 

Patient engagement isn’t something that takes place at one point on the healthcare continuum—it’s a way of reorganizing the care continuum so that patient input and feedback are integral parts of the process at every step. Proper patient engagement aims to:

  • Involve patients in their own healthcare, leading to better outcomes and increased patient satisfaction;
  • Meet patient expectations for better ways to access and engage with their healthcare information and data;
  • Automate patient intake and other processes, helping to secure ROI;
  • Leverage patients to enter data, freeing practice staff to focus on patient care;
  • Improve communication between patients and caregivers;
  • Improve compliance with government regulations; and
  • Provide a global platform for patient access that spans multiple facets of the practice, i.e. physical therapy, urgent care, and other office locations.

This means that, when it comes to IT issues, practices need to choose the right vendor if they want to make patient engagement a reality. They need a vendor who does more than just sell a one-size-fits-all solution; they need a partner in the process of restructuring established workflows for greater efficiency, reduced costs, and better patient engagement. Achieving this is a big enough task on its own, so it’s important to minimize any potential challenges to adoption. The solution has to be:

  • Easy-to-use for both patients and practice staff;
  • Vendor neutral (not limited to the products of a specific manufacturer);
  • Data standardized, so the data can be accurately exchanged between different systems, increasing confidence of both doctors and patients; and
  • Able to connect and communicate with EHRs, HIEs, and ACOs.

As we move from volume- to value-based reimbursement, it is critical to understand how to best utilize the available tools and solutions to get patients actively engaged in their healthcare. Achieving this goal won’t be easy, but we will be creating better outcomes for both patients and for the practices that care for them. Is this at the top of your list for the New Year?

Achieving Outcomes Success

How do you improve outcomes? By collecting and reviewing quality and clinical data, comparing it to practice-wide and national benchmarks, identifying the most effective protocols and their impact on revenue, then standardizing best practices across the organization. These simple steps can greatly improve not only clinical objective outcomes, but patient reported outcomes as well—resulting in an improved reputation, an increase in patient referrals, and a stronger bottom line.

See how utilizing the right data can improve patient care, and standardize success: Achieving Outcomes Blog Image

Check out, Managing Outcomes and the Transition to The Value- Based Care World  to learn more on how proving outcomes for your patients, improves income for your practice.

Power of the Patient Interface

patient-powerHealthcare providers have long known that engaging patients leads to improved health outcomes; in a value-based payment world, engaged patients also provide a stronger framework for increased revenues. For this to happen, however, practices need the right patient engagement platform—one that not only empowers patients to become partners in their own healthcare, but that also documents that engagement.

A reliable, cutting-edge patient portal, for example, can enlist patients to provide extensive personal health data outside of the actual healthcare encounter, freeing up caregivers to spend more time with patients. Further, as population health becomes of increasing concern, practices whose patient engagement platform offers the ability to aggregate and analyze these individual health histories will have a head start. Patient engagement is where relevant data on population health begins.

It is equally important that the patient portal supports compliance with MIPS (Merit-based Incentive Payment Systems), enabling practices to comply with government requirements under Meaningful Use and MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP [Children’s Health Insurance Program] Reauthorization Act) regulations—this will increase Medicare payments and minimize takebacks.

Finally, the patient portal needs to integrate seamlessly with the organization’s electronic health record, health information exchange, and accountable care organization, if any. The right solution will be flexible enough to adapt to the healthcare facility’s IT system, not the other way around.

ACOs and Triple Aim’s interest in patient engagement

Patient engagement was not initially a concern of accountable care organizations (ACOs), which were born of healthcare reform as a way to redefine the shared responsibility of doctors and hospital staff for coordinating care, improving quality, and lowering costs. That changed when the Affordable Care Act officially codified them into law, and recognized that ACOs could not succeed without patient engagement.

Patient engagement has also been deemed essential for the success of the Triple Aim, a framework developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement for optimizing health system performance by:

  • improving the patient experience (including quality and satisfaction);
  • improving population health; and
  • reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.

According to the IHI, “quality” is defined from the perspective of an individual member of a given population which leads logically to a focus on patient-centric care and patient engagement.

The ideal patient portal should be easy-to-use, responsive, and allow your patients to communicate with your practice on their terms. Practices need to communicate and connect with their patients to improve healthcare.

Do you have the right platform to engage your patients?