Posted in Policy

Health IT Now pushes connected technology solutions to opioid crisis

Chris Nerney
Chris Nerney, Contributing Writer |
Health IT Now pushes connected technology solutions to opioid crisis

A coalition of healthcare industry stakeholders is urging federal legislators to fight the opioid crisis with connected technology.

Health IT Now Coalition (HITN) on Thursday announced the Opioid Safety Alliance, which it said will be “dedicated to advancing technology-enabled solutions to combat the scourge of opioid misuse.”

“The launch of HITN’s Opioid Safety Alliance comes at a time when drug overdoses have now claimed more lives in a single year than car crashes, gun violence, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic at their respective peaks,” HITN said in a statement.

While noting that opioid misuse “has received heightened attention on Capitol Hill,” HITN said there has been lack of a “unified, multi-stakeholder advocacy effort from the health IT community to drive solutions that prevent abuse while promoting legitimate access to needed medications.”

“The first-of-its-kind working group, comprised of Health IT Now (HITN) members and non-members alike, is dedicated to advancing technology-enabled solutions to combat the scourge of opioid misuse,” HITN said.

Members of HITN include patient groups, provider organizations, technology vendors, and payers. HITN members participating in the Opioid Safety Alliance include the Association of Behavioral Health and Wellness, Brain Injury Association of America, Centerstone, Chapman University School of Pharmacy, IBM, Intermountain Healthcare, McKesson, National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs, Oracle, and Walgreens.

HITN said the Opioid Safety Alliance will begin advocacy efforts almost immediately by providing testimony at the Food and Drug Administration’s Opioid Policy Steering Committee on January 30.

The group also plans to lobby for numerous reforms and initiatives, including:

  • Enactment of a facilitator model for patient safety
  • Support for funding to upgrade Prescription Drug Monitoring Program technology
  • Ensuring access by clinicians to patient substance abuse records
  • Expansion of treatment options
  • Exploring emerging technologies for protection of supply chain

“In our 60 years as a community-based mental health and addiction services provider, we have seen the toll of opioid misuse on patients and families in personal and up-close ways, and we know the stakes couldn’t be higher,” said David Guth, chief executive officer of community-based behavioral healthcare provider Centerstone. “The technology-enabled reforms proposed by Health IT Now’s Opioid Safety Alliance will not only offer new paths to recovery for those suffering from an opioid-related addiction, but also carry the potential to help intervene before addiction sets in.”